Cancer trials a major victim of pandemic as global studies dropped by 60%: JAMA

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Data out from Medidata and published by the JAMA network have found oncology tests dropped off dramatically in the first wave of the pandemic last year.

The data, published in JAMA Network Open, found a 60% reduction in new oncology trials globally during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (from January to May 2020).

As much of the world locked down in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, save lives and reduce pressure on hospitals, the JAMA findings indicate the COVID-19 pandemic “may be associated with longer term indirect effects on population morbidity and mortality through pathways such as halted drug development.”

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This includes the specific slowdown and stopping of cancer trials in the first wave, which could possibly delay or stop new oncology meds from being developed.

“This significant pandemic-associated decrease in trial launches raises concern regarding its potential negative impact on the development of new cancer therapies, and to the extent that these findings are generalizable to other conditions, the momentum of scientific progress for other diseases as well,” the authors wrote.

Many trials managed to get back up and running fairly swiftly after the first wave as sponsors and CROs used siteless models and other mechanisms, but that 60% drop-off was still a major hit to biopharma research.

Last year, other Medidata COVID-19 research found a decrease in new patient flow in U.S. oncology trials, showing a 10% decrease from pre-COVID-19 levels in August 2020 (PDF). It also found clinical site personnel were feeling the negative impact of the pandemic on current and future trials.