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Clinical Insider
Clinical Insider

COVID-19 looms large amid wider trials slowdown in 2022 says study

Posted by on 20 January 2023
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COVID-19 continues to impact the trials sector according to new study analysis which suggests the pandemic helped drive an increase in attrition rates.

The conclusion is based on a study by AI-driven trial services firm Phesi which looked at 80,917 studies conducted in 2022 to identify underling trends and dynamics that shaped the clinical research industry over the past year.

One key finding was that 2022 saw an increase in Phase II terminations. In 2022, the attrition rate - the number of projects stopped early - for Phase II trials was 28% – 42% higher than the previous five-year average.

Phesi CEO Gen Li said “as we enter the fourth year of pandemic, the industry has more tools to mitigate its impact, but signs of damage continue to emerge.”


Partly the higher attrition rate reflects the number of COVID-19-related studies that stopped early Li said, explaining “With an increase in available vaccines and therapies, it is not surprising that the number of recruiting trials for COVID-19 therapies has fallen.”

However, non-COVID-19-related trial activity also declined in 2022 Li said, citing a reduction in the number of breast-cancer studies being conducted as an example.

“Oncology remains an area of high investment in clinical development, however, 2022 has seen a widespread scale back of overall activity.

“The reduction of recruiting trials in the topmost-studied disease indications is due to several global factors including the pandemic and the war in Ukraine,” Li said, adding “This demonstrates the pressures facing the clinical development industry as the consequences from several years of disruption become visible.”

Data driven

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue to shape the drug research sector over the next few years, particularly in areas like protocol design.

Li said, “clinical trial design must follow a more data-led, patient-centric approach to minimize protocol amendments and terminations and ensure successful study outcomes.”


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