COVID-19 disruption of clinical trials varies by therapy area

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The number of clinical trials disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to increase into 2021, although the degree of disruption varies depending on the therapy area, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Scotty Chung-Siu, MPH, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Companies and organizations continue to report trial disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including delayed initiation, delayed enrollment, and slow enrollment, although not all therapy areas have been equally affected.”

Comparing April 2020 to February 2021, the number of disrupted oncology, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and immunology trials saw a decrease. Oncology saw the biggest decease in the number of disrupted clinical trials by 4.9%, followed by respiratory at 2.8%.

Other therapy areas such as musculoskeletal disorders, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular, and central nervous system saw an increase in disrupted trials. Central nervous system saw the greatest increase by 4.1%, followed by metabolic disorders with a 3.3% increase.

Chung-Siu continues: “With trends such as these, it can be seen that some therapy areas have a better outlook than others. Many hospitals that serve as trial sites are dealing with COVID-19 patients and are no longer available. For that same reason, many investigators may be reallocated to COVID-19 drug discovery trials or treating COVID-19 patients, or activation of sites for non-COVID-19 trials are being deprioritized. There is also a high risk to subjects in a clinical trial who have a serious chronic or acute condition that affects their immune system, giving them a greater chance of contracting COVID-19. It is hard to determine when and how long the disrupted clinical trials will take to return to normal.”

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