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Clinical Insider

Recruiting for cancer studies still a challenge despite surge in oncology sites

Posted by on 28 May 2024
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Cancer trial sites are struggling to find patients to take part in studies according to research which suggests sponsors are paying the price for this underperformance.

The research – by trial sector analytics firm Phesi – looked at the 11,755 Phase I, II and III oncology clinical trial sites, open for recruitment since 2019 to determine what impact the growth of investment in oncology trials is having on investigator sites globally.

And the impact has not been positive. The results suggest nearly one in five sites enrolled just a single patient which – the authors say – delays the development of therapies and makes drug research more expensive.

“The impact of poorly performing sites on cost is substantial. Phesi data shows that a single-patient site has an average cost-per-patient that is ten times higher than a high performing site.”

Site underperformance reflects, in part, an increase in the numb of sites working in the oncology space according to Phesi president Gen Li.

“The saturation of cancer investigator sites in certain areas causes a higher percentage of non-performing and poor performing sites, resulting in trial failures.”

China a driving force

The research also looked at how the distribution of cancer research is evolving and found that while the US still dominates oncology research, globalization of the pharmaceutical industry is having an impact.

For example, China has become a significant driving force behind the increase, with a 374% jump in recruiting oncology investigator sites over the past five years. The smallest growth in investigator sites was seen in the UK and Canada, both increasing by 20%.

In addition, of the top five highest growth countries after the US, three are in Asia – China (374%), Korea (83%), Taiwan (69%). The remaining two are in Brazil (158%) and Spain (87%).

Li commented “Cancer remains an area of high investment in the pharmaceutical industry, which is reassuring news for patients. But it also means investigator sites are under increasing pressure. Many sponsors are exploring the potential of countries outside of the US to conduct trials where competition for patients and investigators is so high.”


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