Last week (November 24), the multiple started spreading the word about the PRINCIPLE COVID-19 trial – run by the University of Oxford – among its 200 pharmacies and 80 nurse clinics.
A Superdrug spokesperson told C+D earlier this week (November 30) that pharmacies and nurse clinic rooms will display posters of the trial, which is investigating which treatments can help people with COVID-19 symptoms recover at home.
Superdrug’s pharmacy superintendent Niamh McMillan said: “Our pharmacy and nurse teams are well placed to support their local communities and play a key role in public health.
“We are proud to be supporting the PRINCIPLE trial, which is driving forward advancements in COVID-19 treatments for the over 50s.”
The news that Superdrug is now supporting PRINCIPLE follows the announcement last month that Lloydspharmacy would be encouraging its teams to help find suitable patients for the trial, displaying posters in branches and “engaging with customers and patients where they can about the project”.
Pharmacies’ public health role
National black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and pharmacy research lead and co-investigator for the PRINCIPLE COVID-19 trial Professor Mahendra Patel told C+D earlier this week (December 1) that “it’s fantastic that another national multiple is coming on board, seeing the importance that pharmacy can play in supporting and raising awareness of the PRINCIPLE trial”.
“Pharmacy plays a huge role in reaching out to those communities that often get missed out, especially when it comes to reducing health inequalities and improving public health. These commonly include the elderly, the underserved communities and those from BAME origin.
“As we know only too well, these groups are the most affected by COVID-19 and it’s so uplifting to see how pharmacy, both in the community and primary care, can work seamlessly as one in the fight against COVID-19,” Professor Patel said.
He told C+D that More than 2,200 participants have been recruited so far to take part in the trial. However, with a high number of COVID-19 cases still being registered daily, Professor Patel believes that “with the added support of pharmacy UK-wide, we can reach 3,000 participants by the end of this year”.
Raise awareness during flu season
Pharmacists across the UK are currently focussing their efforts on administering the flu vaccine to the most at-risk patients, including patients over 65 and – from December 1 in Wales and England – those aged 50-64.
This target audience is broadly similar to the one for the PRINCIPLE trial – which is open to people with certain underlying health conditions aged 50 or older and anyone over the age of 65.
“Being in the middle of a flu season and can only amplify how pharmacies can play a vital role in raising awareness of the trial to those most at risk of contracting the virus,” Professor Patel said.
“Pharmacists could quite easily convey this important public health message while delivering the flu vaccine – that should anyone experience COVID-19 symptoms, there is a treatment trial in place using established drugs. They can contact the trial team at Oxford and, if eligible, have all materials – including any medicines – delivered to their doorstep,” he added.
The PRINCIPLE trial is investigating whether two common antibiotics, azithromycin and doxycycline, can help treat COVID-19 at home. Last week (November 27), the trial team announced that it would also look at inhaled corticosteroid budesonide as a potential COVID-19 treatment that can be taken at home.
It only takes a few minutes to sign up your pharmacy to help the PRINCIPLE trial team source the volunteers they need. If you wish to contribute to this national effort, complete the signup form.