A dearth of patients delay more than 70 percent of U.S. clinical trials anywhere from one to six months, according to a 2007 survey by CenterWatch, a Boston firm that publishes information on medical research.
The shortage is blamed on poor communication between doctors and researchers, and the public's dim view of medical research, in which some trials have been poorly conducted, risking patient health, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
"It's a major issue," says Dr. E. Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "Many trials are started and never finished because they can't complete enrollment. A lot of money is wasted."
The U.S. phase of an international trial on breast cancer drugs was delayed nine months and researchers now expect to enroll only about 350 U.S. patients when they had hoped for as many as 3,500, the Times reported, noting the need for participants plagues nearly every area of medical research.