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Trial productivity flat in 2020 but efficiency efforts show promise, IQVIA

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Clinical development productivity climbed only slightly in 2020 according to IQVIA’s Institute for human data science, which says longer trials and biopharma’s focus on more complex are the key dynamics.

The services firm made the comments in a report last month writing that, while there was an 8% increase in clinical trial starts last year, the number of successful studies increased only marginally.

“Clinical Development Productivity increased slightly in 2020 but remains at historically low levels because of rising trial durations, complexity of disease targets and their associated trial protocol designs, and declining success rates.”

But sponsors and contract research organizations (CROs) are working to increase productivity IQVIA said, noting an increase in the use of new technologies as a positive sign.

“Efforts across the industry to increase productivity by expanding the use of data- and evidence-based approaches to improve trial design and speed execution are expected to yield improvements over time.”

COVID-19 impact limited

IQVIA also looked at how COVID-19 affected clinical research in 2020 and found that, in general, the impact was only minor citing biopharma R&D spending and the number of collaborations signed during the period as the key metrics.

“Funding for early- and late-stage R&D increased significantly in 2020, unaffected by the disruptions of COVID-19 and reflecting a strong focus on innovative pathways and approaches to discover and develop novel therapeutics, and strategic transactions.

“These range from M&A through licensing and other forms of collaboration, often between large and small companies, and they proceeded at typical levels.”

According to the study efforts to discover and develop innovative medicines by small and large companies yielded a record 66 new drugs globally with success in oncology and treatments for rare diseases in addition to COVID-19 vaccines.

The findings were echoed by Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, who said industry efforts to develop new treatments for areas of medical need continued during the pandemic.

“The growth in research and development driven by new oncology drugs, new funding and strategic investments is a testament to the resilience and strength of the innovative, global biopharmaceutical industry.”

Image: iStock/Auris

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