COVID chaos: Survey reveals global oncology trial disruptions

pharmafile | June 10, 2021 | News story | |  data, oncology 

The pandemic has had a widespread impact across the healthcare industry and the world, however, a recent global survey from GlobalData has revealed particular disruption to Phase II oncology trials.

These disruptions are being caused by a number of factors including delayed initiation, enrolment suspension, and slow enrolment, according to GlobalData.

The survey conducted with global key opinion leaders in the pharma industry, found that the total number of clinical trials disrupted showed slow enrolment was the top reason, followed by enrolment suspension, and lastly delayed initiation.


Out of all therapy areas, the survey found oncology to have suffered the most due to the pandemic, topping the charts in terms of clinical trial disruption. Phase II trials have seen the most disruption in oncology, followed by Phase I, III and IV.

Scotty Chung-Siu, MPH, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, said: “As there are more clinical trials in oncology, it is not surprising that it is the most disrupted of the therapy areas. The main challenge has been providing the necessary cancer care during the pandemic. Finding the necessary resources such as ventilation systems and even staff is an ongoing challenge for most healthcare providers.

“Globally, North America far exceeds all other countries when it comes to multinational and single-country disrupted clinical trials, due to more trials being completed in this region. Europe is second, followed by Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and South and Central America.”

Sadly, this data is not surprising as it has been widely reported that COVID-19 has particularly impacted cancer research and screenings. Referrals have been reduced by more than 40% since the pandemic, and as a consequence have impacted considerably on cancer diagnosis and treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

Inevitably, the slowdown in activity that has been experienced will lead to delays in the detection and treatment of cancer as well as in cancer research. As a result of COVID-19-releated delays, the NHS’ stated desire to increase early stage detection from 44% to 75% could be set back to 42%, potentially reversing years of progress, according to health analytics firm, Carnall Farrar.

Kat Jenkins

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