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Virtual clinical development specialist Phesi Inc. has released its analysis of the growth in recruiting clinical trial sites in China since the beginning of 2018. The analysis finds a significant rise in the number of recruiting sites in the country, with a 163% increase between January 2018 and January 2021. While the total number of recruiting sites in the US is still higher than in China, the rate of growth is far slower, with just a 9% increase in the same period (Fig 1). The data finds that the impact of the pandemic was far greater on the clinical trials industry in Western Europe and the US, compared to the sustained growth of China’s pharmaceutical industry. Although the growth in China’s clinical development will bring many positive outcomes, including greater investment in research and increased participation in trials, the acceleration could also overwhelm China’s clinical infrastructure, leading to a potential strain on the industry.
Despite the pandemic causing worldwide disruption to the pharmaceutical industry, China’s clinical development is recovering quickly, but sponsors should be wary of this growth. If the rate of acceleration continues at its current pace, China’s clinical infrastructure could be strained—resulting in fewer patients per trial. A lack of supportive local infrastructure could potentially become a barrier to innovation. This has led to industry experts calling for more accurate data on recruiting sites to be made readily available, so informed decisions can be made on which sites to use, and in which countries.