Clinical research sites in the Northwest are struggling to enroll patients to important novel coronavirus clinical trials. For example, enrollment and some key studies at the University of Washington—including investigations into chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine—have been “anemic” to date, reports the Seattle Times. UW had high hopes that the pandemic would lead to droves of patients—it hasn’t turned out that way. Targeting up to 2,000 participants, UW has secured under 260 participants for a $9.5 million-dollar study ongoing in Seattle and six other sites nationwide. Another UW study has only enrolled 30 patients. “What is going on?” asks Seattle Times staff reporter Sandi Doughton.
First and foremost, participation in clinical research has followed an oppositional direction than was initially forecasted—it has plummeted. A confluence of forces have created bad conditions for study enrollment. For starters, reports of adverse events—heart arrhythmias associated with the experimental drugs followed by U.S. Food and Drug—edicts that select study drugs should only be given in hospitals or clinical trials, reports Ms. Doughton. Frankly, it has spooked would be participants.
As Principal Investigator Dr. Ruanne Barnabas put it, once the word got out about such safety concerns, “our enrollment fell almost down to zero” reports the Seattle Times. Dr. Barnabas is leading one of the studies.
Interestingly (and disturbingly), some believe that the drugs, which happened to have been promoted by President Donald Trump, were actually targeted for political motivations. In other words, drugs such as hydroxychloroquine are being used by studies around the world looking into COVID-19. If administered carefully, it poses little risk. But because of the politically charged environment, it is sort of death by association. That would be a shame.
Columbia University Pulls the Plug
Columbia University researchers will pull the plug on another comparable clinical trial, due in part to lackluster patient enrollment. Perhaps related to the unfortunate political residual mentioned above, Dr. Jon Giles noted that at first it seemed everyone was interested in hydroxychloroquine, but now unfortunately, “nobody wants to take it.” He continued for the Seattle Times, “It’s gone from one extreme that’s bad for science to another extreme, which is also not good for science.”
Follow the source to review the rest of this important and unfortunate story written by Sandi Doughton of the Seattle Times.