Clinical trials of COVID-19 drugs feel impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict
Published: Mar 01, 2022 08:05 PM
A multi-center clinical trial for China's self-developed AIDS vaccine started this year and is currently in progress. Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

As the tension between Russia and Ukraine escalates, Chinese pharmaceutical companies are evaluating the potential impact on the research and clinical trials of COVID-19 medicines carried out in Ukraine.

Kintor Pharma, one of the Chinese companies carrying out a COVID-19 drug clinical trial in Ukraine, said that patients enrolled in the program are still under treatment.

"Ukraine is one of the countries participating in the clinical trial of our experimental drug Proxalutamide, and the patients enrolled are being treated," a spokesman from Kintor Pharma told the Global Times on Tuesday, adding that the company is closely watching the status of participating centers in Ukraine to evaluate the impact.

Proxalutamide is a novel androgen receptor antagonist and degrader that is under development for the potential treatment of COVID-19, prostate cancer and breast cancer, according to Kintor Pharma.

As Chinese mainland has basically controlled the spread of the virus, a number of Chinese drug research and development companies have turned to other countries including Ukraine to carry out international multi-center clinical trials for COVID-19 pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

According to global clinical trial database Pharma Go, a total of 227 multi-center clinical trials initiated by Chinese companies or researchers are using Ukraine as a clinical trial base.

In July 2021, an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine produced by Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products was approved by the State Expert Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to carry out phase III clinical trials in the region, Jiemian reported.

The company said that the tension in the region has had no significant impact on its clinical trials.

The list is not short. With Ukraine as the keyword, the Global Times found that at least eight A-share listed companies have revealed business relations with Ukraine in announcements in the past year. This includes Yiling Pharmaceutical, Shanghai Fuhong Hanlin Biological Medicine Co and Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products.

Ukraine is among the top pharmaceutical markets, with many clinical trials underway. Clinical centers can be launched there quickly, the operating costs are lower than in western European countries, and people are more willing to participate in the tests, experts said.

More than 660 clinical trials are ongoing, planned or recruiting participants in Ukraine, according to the registry platform Clinical Trials.

However as the tension in the region escalates, experts warned of a lasting impact on the multi-center clinical operations of pharmaceutical companies in Ukraine.

"It is unlikely that Ukraine's society and economy will return to normal any time soon and as a result the clinical trials are likely be disrupted by rising costs or social disorder," Wang Chishen, an independent economist, told the Global Times on Tuesday.