In-Home Specimen Collection Allows Clinical Trials to Continue During the Coronavirus Crisis

Acquiring samples from patients within the comfort of their own homes could help clinical trials move forward during the pandemic

Written by Brian Neman, Co-Founder and CEO, Sanguine Bio

The coronavirus pandemic has altered virtually every aspect of life. Pharmaceutical research, specifically clinical trials, are no exception. To slow the virus’ spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended social distancing—essentially, avoiding close contact with others. Yet clinical trials typically require patients to make frequent visits to hospital settings, where a number of sick individuals may be present, increasing their risk of infection.

What effects will COVID-19 have on clinical trials? Will it cause patients to stop showing up for collection? Are there ways we can continue to keep trials moving forward, rather than risking potential deviations, jeopardizing data integrity and data quality, and most of all avoiding risking adverse events for the patients?

Participant recruitment has always been a key challenge in clinical trials. Over 50 percent of studies and trials fail to meet their enrollment deadlines, and over 40 percent of test subjects drop out mid-way through the trial. These hurdles existed before. COVID-19 is complicating things further.

But researchers needn’t stall their clinical trials until the pandemic subsides. Those whose trials require non-invasive patient samples have an option: in-home specimen collection, which involves acquiring samples from patients within the comfort of their own homes, removing concerns about them traveling to, and remaining in, a hospital setting.

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