A guide to clinical trials disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus has upended the globe. Cities and countries enacted shelter-in-place policies, shuttering businesses while canceling school and other events. Many companies have now kept employees home for more than a month.
All are measures taken in the name of "social distancing," the best way of keeping the virus at bay until therapies and vaccines are available to stop it.
Much attention, and rightly so, is focused on the drugs the biopharma industry is developing to treat COVID-19. But those efforts could disguise a cost to public health, too, in the form of stalled progress on experimental medicines for other diseases.
Since the start of March, nearly 100 companies have reported some sort of disruption to a clinical trial as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Such news is now common, as medical centers across the world have focused their precious resources on treating people infected with the coronavirus. But there are some signs of a cautious restart: Pfizer said recently it would resume enrollment in trials where permitted by conditions.
A word on definitions: We broke down drugmakers into three categories, defined by market value. "Small biotech" indicates companies worth less than $1 billion as of April 6, while "Mid-sized biotech" refers to those valued between $1 billion and $10 billion, and "Large biotech or pharma" means drugmakers with a market capitalization of $10 billion or more. For counting trials by study phase, we only included those trials specifically mentioned by companies. This has the effect of likely undercounting trials run by major drugmakers, which more often disclosed COVID-19 effects in broad terms.
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Companies with affected trials, by size
Number of companies that have reported trial impacts
Affected trials, by study phase
Number of affected trials in each phase of development