Professor Mahendra G Patel is co-investigator and pharmacy research lead of PRINCIPLE trial

A Covid-19 treatment trial led by the University of Oxford has integrated inclusion and diversity (I&D) in its patient recruitment strategy.

The PRINCIPLE trial has been exploring treatments in the community to enable patients with coronavirus symptoms to recover before they need to go to hospital.

Writing in The Lancet, the trial team said that as part of their “inclusive recruitment strategies”, co-investigator and ethnic minority communities and pharmacy research lead, Professor Mahendra G Patel, was tasked with targeting socioeconomically deprived areas, black and Asian ethnic minority communities and people with learning difficulties through the pharmacy network.

The team developed relationships across England, Scotland and Wales with community and religious organisations, universities and national and regional health-care institutions whilst gathering support from community leaders, health professionals and their organisations.

Himself a practising community pharmacist and academic, Prof Patel has played a pivotal part in reaching out to and helping establish PRINCIPLE trial in over 7,500 community pharmacies UK-wide.

“This is huge for pharmacy,” Prof Patel told Pharmacy Business, because he believes a trial like PRINCIPLE “paves the way for more engagement by communities into research in general through pharmacy, in helping to ultimately improve health and health outcomes and reduce health inequalities.”

Additionally, more than 1,000 general practice co-investigators have helped with participant recruitment from a range of settings.

The team have also promoted the trial in many languages, via local and UK national media channels, the internet and social media platforms.

On the basis of results from PRINCIPLE, the NHS has stated that inhaled budesonide can reduce the recovery time for patients managed within primary care and may be considered for use in the community setting. This has also become recommended practice in other countries such as Canada and India.

The importance of early treatment has been highlighted not only in Covid-19 but also in other respiratory diseases such as influenza.

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