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Senior pharmacist appointed to COVID-19 clinical trial team

Oxford University has recruited Professor Mahendra Patel as national black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and pharmacy lead for its Principle COVID-19 clinical trial.

Principle – platform randomised trial of interventions against COVID-19 in older people – is a UK-wide clinical trial run by Oxford University that aims to find medicines those aged over 50 can take at home to help ease COVID-19 symptoms, reducing the need for hospital admissions

Professor Patel – a pharmacist and member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English pharmacy board and C+D’s clinical advisory board – has been appointed as the trial’s national BAME community and pharmacy lead, it was announced last week (September 18) His role will involve increasing participation from these groups into the study.

The trial, open to people over 50 who have an underlying health condition and to anyone over the age of 65, needs “thousands of volunteers”, according to the statement from Principle announcing Professor Patel’s appointment.

The statement emphasised the importance of recruiting volunteers from “British Asian communities, who are often underrepresented in this type of research but can be at higher risk of developing more serious COVID-19 illness”.

“Pharmacists play a valuable role”

Commenting on his appointment last week (September 18), Professor Patel said he was “delighted and honoured to be joining the Principle trial for this very important work in the crusade against COVID-19”.

“There has to be a more concerted and tailored effort to reach out to BAME 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.

Professor Patel said that how trials “reach out to the different communities is vital to ensure proper understanding and confidence is attained, owing to people’s different cultural and religious beliefs and attitudes”.

“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,” he added.

Earlier this year (July 2), C+D spoke to Professor Patel about the COVID-19 risk assessments required to keep BAME pharmacy staff safe, and the role pharmacy plays in protecting BAME communities.

You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, subscribe to C+D's podcasts on iTunes or by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred Android podcast app.

What do you make of the PRINCIPLE trial?

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