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Two of the UK’s largest pharmacy chains, LloydsPharmacy and Well Pharmacy, are tasking their branches with helping to find suitable patients for the PRINCIPLE Trial of Covid-19 treatments.

A bag in a pharmacy. © Shutterstock

Led by Oxford University researchers, PRINCIPLE is working across the UK to evaluate if treatment administered early in the course of the Covid-19 illness can help people aged over 50 recover quickly, without the need for hospital admission.

The partnership means posters signposting participants into the trial will be displayed in 2150 community pharmacies across the nation.

Welcoming both pharmacy chains to the trial, Co-Lead of the PRINCIPLE Trial Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said: “I am delighted to welcome both LloydsPharmacy and Well Pharmacy to PRINCIPLE. Working closely with the pharmacy sector improves the quality of research, and strengthens our ability to reach out to potential study participants across thousands of local communities in our search for Covid-19 treatments.”

Janice Perkins, Pharmacy Superintendent at Well Pharmacy, said: “Supporting and promoting this vital research to our patients and customers across the thousands of local communities we serve, is enormously important to us. We want to do all we can to help slow or halt the progression of COVID-19, particularly supporting those aged 50 and our BAME communities who are more vulnerable during these difficult times. I would urge any of our customers and patients or their family and friends who may be affected by COVID-19 and are eligible, to contact us and take part in this trial.”

Steve Howard, Clinical Standards Director and Superintendent Pharmacist at LloydsPharmacy, said: “Our extensive community pharmacy network and presence will help reach out to a wide range of communities and we hope the sector will come together to support the trial team by signposting eligible candidates to the project. Pharmacy plays a key part in the health and wellbeing of their local communities and this is a huge opportunity to demonstrate what we can achieve when we all work together.”

Professor Mahendra G Patel, PRINCIPLE’s national Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Community and Pharmacy Lead, and Co-Investigator, said “I’m delighted to see how highly the team here at Oxford value and recognise what an immensely powerful and useful resource pharmacy is becoming in championing the search for treatments for Covid-19. Pharmacy teams are firmly embedded within the hearts of many communities throughout the UK and play an important role in improving public health and reducing health inequalities, especially among underserved and BAME communities. Bringing the large multinational pharmacy chains on board is the first step, with many more to follow including mid-sized and independent community pharmacies.”

The PRINCIPLE trial is funded from UK Research and Innovation and the Department of Health and Social Care through the National Institute for Health Research as part of the UK Government’s rapid research response fund.

Find out more about how to take part at www.principletrial.org