(Yicai Global) Feb. 14 -- As a result of the novel coronavirus epidemic, medical staff in key departments of some main Chinese hospitals have been transferred elsewhere while admission of ordinary patients is limited. Against this backdrop, the progress of clinical trials of new drugs, including anticancer treatments, is being hindered.
About one-fifth of the world's new drug clinical trials are being conducted in China, which is double the 10 percent figure of five years ago, according to GlobalData.
Some clinical projects have been shelved because of the difficulty in recruiting patients while others may have data that is invalidated due to the large number of patients who cannot get to the hospital for medication on time, a pharmaceutical company executive said.
"Ongoing clinical trials are still under way, but their progress will be affected, and some clinical trials that have not yet recruited patients will certainly be delayed," the chief executive of a Shanghai-based biomedical company said. The firm's original oncology drugs are undergoing clinical trials at many locations across China.
Clinical trials of new drugs that are under way in several Chinese hospitals include a rare hematology medicine under study by Novartis, an anti-tumor drug from BeiGene, and a spinal arthritis treatment from Tasly Pharmaceutical Group, Yicai Global learned.
It is not yet possible to understand the epidemic's development, so it is too early to assess its impact on business.
Some firms told Yicai Global that they were minimizing the impact of potential clinical trial delays, but it is still unclear what impact the challenges will have on business.
Almost all multinational pharmaceutical giants moved their clinical trials and new drug research and development centers to China in recent years, mainly because of the large number of Chinese cases. The novel coronavirus outbreak will also allow pharmaceutical companies to re-examine their China strategy, industry insiders said.
"Before the outbreak, multinational companies had high expectations from the Chinese biopharmaceutical market, and some companies even relied entirely on Chinese contract research organizations," one insider said. "The epidemic will make them more cautious and have implications for the whole biopharm sector chain."
Editor: Peter Thomas