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Ukraine: Industry-sponsored clinical development at risk

With the world paying close attention to Ukraine, Clinical Trials Arena examines ongoing and planned drug trials in the country.

By Reynald Castañeda

Today’s news has been dominated by updates from Ukraine, where Russian troops are reported to have launched a wide-ranging attack with further reports of civilian deaths and locals fleeing cities.

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With Ukraine’s healthcare system also likely to be stretched, it would have a ripple effect on its local clinical trials industry. The country has been an attractive location due to its large treatment-naïve population, centralised health system that helps with recruitment, as well as experienced healthcare professionals.

But with recent news, industry-sponsored drug clinical trials might have to look elsewhere for participants as geopolitical tensions are unlikely to abate anytime soon. In total, there are at least 680 ongoing or planned industry-sponsored clinical trials in Ukraine. And a vast majority of these studies are multi-country investigations, with at least 14 studies having recruitment sites solely in the country, according to GlobalData’s clinical trials database.

The database reveals that when these studies are divided according to therapy area, most are in the realm of oncology which has 786 trials. Rounding off the top five therapy areas are trials in central nervous system (182), infectious disease (127), gastroenterology (116), and cardiovascular (105). 

And if these trials are arranged by their disease space, the top five ongoing and planned clinical trials with sites in Ukraine are in lung cancer (99 trials), breast cancer (78), ulcerative colitis (44), Covid-19 (35), and Crohn’s disease (31). There are trials that cover more than one therapy area or disease space.

What the data reveals is that most of these trials are still ongoing and recruiting patients. While there are ongoing trials that may have stopped recruiting, these studies are still likely to be affected since participants need to be followed for data collection. There are several planned trials on the schedule, but the chances of these studies opening sites in Ukraine soon is likely to be slim.

Additional reporting by data journalist Ovanes Penchev

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