WEDNESDAY, June 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in significant disruption to oncology therapeutic clinical trials, with an initial decrease in new patient accruals and in newly activated trials, according to a study published online June 14 in the Annals of Oncology.

Ziad Bakouny, M.D., from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective, multicenter study to examine the impact of the pandemic on therapeutic clinical trials between December 2019 and June 2021. Enrollment on, accrual to, and activation of oncology therapeutic clinical trials were examined using an institution-wide cohort.

A total of 4,756 new patients enrolled to clinical trials from December 2019 to June 2021 were included in the cohort. The researchers observed a major decrease in the numbers of new patient accruals early in the pandemic (−46 percent), followed by a progressive recovery and return to levels that were higher than normal (+2.6 percent). Among 467 newly activated trials from June 2019 to June 2021, a similar pattern was observed (−23.6 to +30.4 percent). Among academically sponsored trials, compared with industry sponsored trials, a more pronounced decline in new accruals was seen.

“The good news is that both patient accruals and trial activations gradually recovered during the subsequent periods of the pandemic and have now returned to higher-than-normal levels, despite the ongoing nature of the pandemic,” a coauthor said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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