Protecting clinical trials in cystic fibrosis during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: risks and mitigation measures

Silke van Koningsbruggen-Rietschel, Fiona Dunlevy, Veerle Bulteel, Kate Hayes, Anne Verbrugge, Hettie M Janssens, Nadine Dufeu, Nicholas J Simmonds, Lieven J Dupont, Damian G Downey

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Abstract

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has disrupted clinical trials worldwide. The European Cystic Fibrosis Society-Clinical Trials Network (ECFS-CTN) has tracked clinical trial disruption by surveying its 58 trial sites across 17 European countries and collated information on measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and ensure trial continuity. Here, we present recommendations on how to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure to patients and trial staff by implementing remote trial visits where possible, using home assessments, video and phone calls, electronic consent, and home delivery of study drugs. We discuss the practicalities of remote source data verification, protocol amendments, changing trial site location, and staff absences and home working. We outline recommendations on how to protect trial outcomes, including home assessments, safety reporting, protocol deviations, and recruitment challenges. Finally, we discuss the importance of continued access to study drugs via extension trials for some patients. This guidance was co-created from the shared knowledge and experience of sites in our network and was re-distributed directly to all ECFS-CTN sites to help mitigate the impact of further waves of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We will also use this guidance to assist companies, academia, and consortia with future protocol design and risk mitigation plans. This guidance can be applied to clinical trials in other diseases and could help sites that are not supported by clinical trial networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number578
JournalTrials
Volume22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021. The Author(s).

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Cystic Fibrosis/diagnosis
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2

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