Patient Shortage for Cancer Trials Grows

Meir Rinde
Published: Monday, Apr 30, 2018
Dr Anthony W. Tolcher

Anthony W. Tolcher, MD
At a time of rapid advancements in cancer biology and innovation, researchers are facing mounting challenges in finding enough patients to recruit for clinical trials. Although this has been difficult for many years, current trends in oncology drug development may be making the problem more acute.

). Genomic testing companies, analytics firms, and drug makers are developing programs that collect patients’ data and connect them to appropriate studies, while working to bring trials to patients wherever they are rather than requiring them to travel long distances to benefit from new treatments.

Table. Key Considerations for Expanding Clinical Trial Eligibility6



When a trial closes due to low accrual, the researchers cannot report on the results and advance the drug toward approval. Trials with greater risk of low accrual included those that required a biopsy and phase III randomized trials, as well as those that faced more competition from other trials for patients with the same condition.

Competing for Patients

A fundamental problem is that many potentially eligible patients never even reach the point of learning about a trial and deciding whether to participate. About 90% of patients are treated in the community setting and only 10% at academic centers, yet trials tend to be sited at the centers, said Anthony W. Tolcher, MD, of Texas Oncology and CEO and director of clinical research at NEXT Oncology, both in San Antonio.
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