Potential Consequences of SARS-CoV-2 to ongoing clinical programs

The FDA Perspective

By: Laurie Smaldone, CMO/CSO, NDA Group 

In this white paper, NDA’s Laurie Smaldone discusses the potential impact of COVID-19 on on-going clinical trials.


Laurie Smaldone
CMO/CSO

The virus SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting COVID-19 disease have created devastating impacts around the globe on lives and livelihood, including major disruption of ongoing research and development activities for innovative therapies. From many perspectives the spread of SARS-CoV-2 has impacted and will continue to impact ongoing global registrational programs for a variety of disorders especially those not directly addressing the treatment or prevention of the SARS-CoV-2.

This disruption impacts all facets of the drug development process, from the Sponsor company, to the supply chain of investigational treatments to the productivity of study sites. The FDA has issued guidance to address the challenges that may arise from a range of disruptions that could impact the validity and integrity of clinical programs.

The FDA has noted that the spread of the virus may lead to GCP violations and protocol deviations, including impact on trial endpoints and safety collection.   FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Janet Woodcock stated that “trials may be able to shift to tele-outcome assessments”, but others “may be damaged and may have to halt and not start up again until we can interact more freely”.

FDA’s recent guidance, “Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products during COVID-19 Pandemic”  addresses the potential impacts to ongoing trials.  The guidance provides stakeholders in the drug development and approval process with critical considerations for ongoing trials.

Potential COVID-19 impacts

Trials may be impacted in a variety of ways. Some sites have had to close down or have witnessed significant recruitment delays due to the inability of patient travel, illness, or redeployment of study personnel to address COVID-19 patients or trials.  These limitations can greatly impact study continuity and procedures to maintain study integrity.  In making decisions on trial continuity, Sponsors will need to do a robust   assessment of  trial conduct that may impact patient safety, GCP, drug storage and administration, and protocol procedures .

 

Click to read the full white paper

Global capabilities for local growth

In this commentary, NDA’s Johan Strömquist and Thomas Lönngren provide their reflections on the unique opportunities the Nordics present for the Life Science Sector.


Nordic life science has been on a roller-coaster for the last twenty years. It was at the epi-centre of the creation of some of the world’s most successful pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, Pharmacia, Novo Nordisk, Leo and Lundbeck. The downsizing and movements of the Swedish giants left a vacuum in the region that was hard to fill.

It has taken until now for the Life Science community to stage its comeback to the world stage. This time however, the success does not belong to one or two big companies, but to hundreds of small, agile and innovative biotechs. The problem these smaller companies have faced has been funding to allow them to properly develop and commercialise their innovations. But even in this arena, we see that great strides are being taken to address the challenges.

We are quickly approaching the four-year anniversary of the announcement that Janssen licensed one of Alligator Bioscience’s early stage immune-oncology agents for a sizeable amount. Last year Wilson Therapeutics was acquired for a whooping SEK 6.6 billion and AstraZeneca invested heavily in SOBI. This year we’ve seen significant scientific and/or financial successes from smaller companies such as Cantargia, Xbrane, Immunicum, Cereno Scientific and Xintela and more biotechs than ever have found their way to the stock market via Stockholm Nasdaq.

However, using the capital that this success unlocks comes with its own challenges. How should a small biotech prioritise and use the capital in an optimal way to ensure success and that scientific advances are within parameters that are both approvable and reimbursable?

For over twenty years NDA has worked to support companies overcome these hurdles and make sure that precious resources are used to optimise the outcomes.

Says Johan Strömquist, CEO NDA Group:

Johan Strömquist CEO

“The Nordic life science community is remarkable – it is resilient, innovative and able to create a lot from very little. What I see right now is incredibly exciting and encouraging – significant strides in cross-company and cross-border collaboration.”

He continues:

“Through organisations like Sweden BIO, Medicon Valley Alliance and, more recently, the LSX Nordic Congress in collaboration with Stockholm Nasdaq, I see companies getting together to discuss common concerns. As a trusted international advisor, we have a unique opportunity to bring learnings from all over the world into the Nordic life science scene for the benefit of everyone.”

 

NDA’s Strategic Advisor, Thomas Lönngren, formerly Chief Executive of the European Medicines Agency, agrees:

Dr. Thomas Lönngren

“The US remains the most important development region for new medicines in the world. How do they do it? By bringing everything together – capital, universities, hospitals, entrepreneurs and large companies. Just look at Boston; you have everything within walking distance!”

He continues:

“Though the goal may not be to emulate the American success story 100% the movements we see toward more collaboration and cross-fertilisation is very positive. We have strong academia and are very good at spinning out companies in the Nordics. Now we just need to improve the way we develop new medicines so they can reach the market and the patients that need them consistently to make the Nordics an important hub of drug innovation.”

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