Avigan trial in PH faces recruitment woes due to downtrend in COVID-19 cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — The clinical trial in the Philippines for anti-viral drug Avigan has hit another snag after the Department of Health revealed that hospitals are having trouble recruiting volunteer patients.

DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire on Thursday attributed the new challenge to the decreasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases being admitted in hospitals, as well as several other clinical trials being conducted in the country.

"Medyo may challenge ngayon kasi kumokonti ang kaso natin. Meron din ibang clinical trials na isasagawa sa bansa, so parang nagkakaroon ng challenge sa pagre-recruit dahil sa pagkonti ng pasyente," she said in a media forum.

[Translation: There is a challenge because there are fewer new cases. There are also other clinical trials conducted in the country so the recruitment of patients is becoming a challenge.]

Vergeire said that trimming down the number of volunteers or including more participating hospitals is not an option for now. The trial involving 100 patients from the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Sta. Ana Hospital, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center aims to look into possible benefits of the Japanese drug to coronavirus patients.

The nine-month trial was supposed to start on August 17, but it was postponed several times due to funding and documentary requirements.