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Pharmacist brought in to encourage BAME recruitment to major UK COVID-19 clinical trial

Mahendra Patel, a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, has joined the PRINCIPLE trial as its national black, Asian and minority ethnic community and pharmacy lead.

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Mahendra Patel

Source: Nic Bunce / The Pharmaceutical Journal

Mahendra Patel will work to widen access to the University of Oxford’s PRINCIPLE trial

A pharmacist has been hired to strengthen recruitment of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) patients to one of the major UK-based COVID-19 trials.

Mahendra Patel, a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) English Pharmacy Board, has joined the PRINCIPLE trial as its national BAME community and pharmacy lead.

The national trial, led by the University of Oxford, aims to find treatments for COVID-19 that are suitable for patients aged over 50, and that can be taken at home and therefore reduce the need for patients to go to hospital.

To date, more than 850 people have volunteered to take part in the trial. However, in a statement published on 18 September 2020, the university said that “recruiting people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities has been a particular challenge”, even though people from these communities may be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of COVID-19.

In his new role, Patel will work to widen access to the PRINCIPLE trial among people from BAME communities.

“There has to be a more concerted and tailored effort to reach out to black, Asian and minority ethnic communities more effectively in health research — particularly in the case of COVID-19, where we are seeing members of these communities unfortunately experiencing a greater risk of contracting the virus with higher adverse effects and even deaths,” he said.

Patel added that “pharmacists play a valuable role in the community and in primary care, and there is an opportunity here to use those channels more effectively in recruiting people from all backgrounds into this trial”.

Chris Butler, lead investigator at University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said that “conventional patient recruitment strategies, which rely on utilising established national and regional clinical networks, often fail to reach those who are typically under-represented in health research”. He added that a “more targeted and culturally sensitive approach is crucial for researchers seeking to understand more about COVID-19 and how to treat it”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208372

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