Walgreens Boots Alliance: Empowering People with Cancer Around the World

In 2018, 17 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed worldwide. For the past 20 years, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and its businesses, which include Boots UK, Boots Ireland, Alliance Healthcare and Walgreens, has sought to create innovative and meaningful support for cancer patients and their loved ones.  

 WBA is the first, global pharmacy-led healthcare enterprise. More than 110,000 pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other health care service providers and practitioners are among the company’s more than 415,000* employees around the world.

“Our purpose is to help people live healthier and happier lives around the world,” said Ornella Barra, WBA co-chief operating officer and the chairman of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. “Our community pharmacists and other healthcare providers deliver trusted information, expertise and compassionate care for individuals with cancer.”

 The company’s efforts to address cancer align with two United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: UN SDG #3, which focuses on reducing the impact of non-communicable diseases and ensuring accessible and affordable care for all; and UN SDG #17, which focuses on partnerships to drive sustainable change.

Three Priority Cancer Strategy

WBA focuses on three priorities in the cancer space: working with organizations that advance research; assisting people living with cancer, their loved ones and caregivers; and expanding prevention programs.

Research to Identify Promising Breakthroughs

In 2011, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) embarked on a pioneering partnership in precision medicine with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC). The joint effort led to the creation of the first pan-European cancer research infrastructure, SPECTA (Screening Patients for Efficient Clinical Trial Access), for colorectal cancer. Today, SPECTA is recognized as one of the leading infrastructures for clinical cancer research in Europe and has been used by European Union initiatives as a platform for the research of rare solid cancers in adults.

Ornella Barra, WBA co-chief operating officer and the chairman of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee with leaders from the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and Richard Ellis, WBA’s vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility (second from the right)

Specialized Personalized Cancer Training and Expertise to Care for People with Cancer

WBA has developed partnerships with leading cancer organizations from around the world: Macmillan Cancer Support in the United Kingdom; the Irish Cancer Society in Ireland; and Susan G. Komen and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in the United States. Through these partnerships, WBA provides specialized training for its healthcare providers, so they can support cancer patient needs related to medication and side effects from cancer and cancer treatment.

 Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support, for example, have worked together for 10 years to provide expertise to those living with cancer. More than 2,000 Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists and more than 800 Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors provide in-store support for customers on how to manage the effects of cancer and its treatments.

Awareness, Prevention and Screening

Throughout the year, across WBA’s global business, employees are engaged in raising money to support cancer causes such as the Rosa Fuerte Race conducted by Mexican retail pharmacy business Farmacias Benavides. The annual fundraiser raises funds for women who have or have had breast cancer.

Strategic Partnerships to Drive Sustainable Change

WBA believes in the power of partnerships to accelerate progress in the fight against cancer, as envisioned through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #17:

  • In April 2019, the company launched a new collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support, Susan G. Komen and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), forming a transatlantic charitable partnership to support people living with cancer.
  • Walgreens and Susan G. Komen recently collaborated on the launch of Feel More Like You, a program designed to help people with cancer manage physical and emotional side effects of cancer treatment. The program is available through more than 3,000 Walgreens stores across the U.S.