U.S. drugmakers Eli Lilly and Co and Bristol Myers Squibb said they are delaying the start of new clinical trials in part to free up doctors and healthcare facilities to deal with the surge in patients infected with the new coronavirus.
Lilly and Bristol are the biggest drugmakers yet to announce clinical trial delays in the face of the pandemic that has killed over 16,000 people worldwide, after several small biotech companies said last week that they would be pulling back on drug studies.
The moves are not related to clinical trials testing drugs or vaccines that could be used to treat or prevent COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week urged switching to virtual patient visits instead of in-person monitoring when conducting clinical studies as it anticipated the outbreak would disrupt them.
Pfizer Inc, Merck & Co, AbbVie Inc, and Johnson & Johnson were not immediately available for comment on their trials policies.
Delaying clinical trials could hurt future revenue for pharmaceutical companies as it lengthens the time it takes for drugs to receive approval and reach the market. It could also hurt patients by limiting their access to experimental treatments being studied.
Lilly said the move would delay the timeline for ongoing late-stage studies of its experimental gastrointestinal disease treatment mirikizumab.