Last month, CISCRP collaborated with Sanofi, Inc. to host our flagship clinical research education program, AWARE for All, at Rutger’s University in Newark, New Jersey. As part of the program, a special pop up pharmacy, named the “MT Pharmacy,” was set up 3 days prior to the AWARE event in an effort to engage with the Newark community. The purpose of the MT Pharmacy was to show that without clinical trials, pharmacy shelves would be empty, and would not carry the necessary medicines and therapies that are used to treat diseases and ailments for millions of people around the world. It was also a chance to share information about clinical research and to invite the community to attend AWARE for All.
This special pharmacy project was developed with the assistance of Langland, who initially proposed the concept and idea during CISCRP’s Inspiring Hope Ideathon event held in September of 2016. The idea stood out to CISCRP as a well-suited complement to our AWARE for All events, as both the MT Pharmacy and AWARE for All aim to educate the public about the importance of clinical trials. We piloted the idea of opening the MT Pharmacy a few days before our AWARE for All Newark event in an effort to reach more members of the local community to create greater awareness of clinical research and encourage them to attend the live AWERE for All event.
The location for the pharmacy was strategically chosen to be central to downtown Newark and in an area where there is high foot traffic. The temporary storefront was set up to attract passersby’s with the promise of free health screenings and other giveaways. Upon entering the pharmacy, individuals were met with brightly lit walls of empty shelves and barren displays. At first sight individuals appeared curious or even confused. Onsite representatives explained that the empty pharmacy was a demonstration of what our stores might look like without the medicines and treatments that are developed in clinical trials.
The pharmacy was open for 3 days and within that time, hundreds of people were in and out of the store learning about the impact of an empty pharmacy and learning about the AWARE for All live educational event that was being held at Rutger’s University later in the week. During their visit, people were encouraged to fill out and personalize empty pill boxes with a medicine or treatment that they wished was available. In total 465 boxes were filled out and placed on the empty shelves.
Charlotte Huyton from Langland shared her experience at the pharmacy explaining, “Curiosity drew people into the store; once they entered and chatted with the pharmacist and the team they filled out boxes and shared their story! Many were enthused to hear that a community event was coming to their area and that there was an opportunity to learn more.” Nearly 120 of the MT Pharmacy visitors also attended our AWARE for All Newark event.
The MT Pharmacy provided a creative platform for creating awareness of clinical research and for building up momentum about our AWARE event within the local Newark community. CISCRP plans to apply initiatives and programs such as this one for future AWARE events. A video of the pharmacy event, including interviews, visitor reactions, and footage of the three days is available to view HERE and will also be made available on www.everyonesinvited.org. This video will be free for the public to view and share.
By: Leslie Perez