End of First Quarter Shows Pharma Weathering Trial Disruptions, Planning for the Future
As pharma companies report on first-quarter earnings, most appear hopeful that they can limit the impact of the pandemic on their current trials and return to near-normal conditions by the end of the year. Here’s a sampling of what happened last week:
AstraZeneca is continuing its phase 3 trials with modifications in procedures, such as home-based treatment and monitoring, recruiting new patients in regions less affected by the pandemic, and planning for accelerated recruitments when the crisis has passed. But the company acknowledges that earlier-phase studies could be delayed.
Contract laboratory services provider Butterworth Labs is experiencing increased workload as many of its clients outsource more operations due to limited resources under the pandemic. The company has taken several measures to protect its personnel while maintaining services to clients, including having lab analysts work in shifts to facilitate social distancing and cross-training to increase staff flexibility.
Most of its trials may be delayed by one to three months, GlaxoSmithKline reports, with only a couple of studies paused or terminated. GSK also is partnering with Sanofi and other companies to explore COVID-19 vaccine options.
Eli Lilly announced last week that it plans to resume normal clinical trial operations in the second half of 2020 as the pharma giant reopens enrollment for existing trials and begins to initiate new trials. Lilly said it will continue to invest in COVID-19-related research for the rest of the year.
CRO IQVIA reports that travel and access restrictions mean that 80 percent of its sites currently are inaccessible. The company is optimistic, however, that all sites will be open by the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Novartis is confident most of its research operations will continue on track this year, with the exception of its UK trial of cholesterol treatment inclisiran, which has paused enrollment while waiting for pandemic conditions to ease.
Pfizer is starting to reopen trials it had paused in the early days of the pandemic and start new studies at all sites that are currently operational. The company also is partnering with German company BioNTech on a trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate and researching an antiviral treatment with trials scheduled to start in the third quarter.