Positioning Your Site for Success in 2020: Therapeutic Area and Study Trends Amidst COVID-19

Given the circumstances we have experienced in 2020 nationally and globally, ClinEdge has analyzed data to review how COVID-19 has impacted therapeutic areas this year. Starting with the outbreak in China late December and fast forwarding to May with over 5 Million cases worldwide, many sites have had to adjust and pivot their clinical operations while studies have been put on hold. As sponsors have been racing to develop therapeutics, antivirals, vaccines, and diagnostics, as of June there are 547 unique compounds in development for COVID-19. Some of these are novel compounds, some are salvage drugs, and some were already in development for other indications and have been repurposed. Of these, 176 are currently in clinical development stages and top therapeutic areas have shifted as a result. 

2020 So Far:

Top Therapeutic Areas & COVID-19 Impact


January and February

  1. Dermatology was at the top with 30 studies. The top indications were psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and alopecia.
  2. Neurology had 23 studies. Top indications were Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
  3. Psychiatry had 17 studies. Schizophrenia, major depression, and ADHD were the top indications.

Jan & Feb_ Top Therapeutic Areas

The top therapeutic areas in January and February, as evidenced by the number of studies conducted, were dermatology, neurology, and psychiatry. They represented 36% of all studies for those months.


March and April

  1. Infectious disease was the top area with 63 studies. The top indication was COVID-19 (88% of infectious disease studies).
  2. Neurology had 20 studies. Top indications were Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Dermatology had 17 studies. Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis were the top indications.

March & April_ Top Therapeutic Areas

The top therapeutic areas in March and April, as evidenced by the number of studies conducted, were infectious disease, neurology, and dermatology. They represented 47% of all studies for those months.


During these months, we observed an increase in studies starting. But it is also very interesting to notice that the top three therapeutic areas went from 36% of all studies to 47%. The graphic does not show it, but March was down when compared to an average month, and this was probably due to the uncertainty of the macro environment. However, in April, sponsors very likely started planning for the future, trying to set themselves up for success.


May and June

(please note that we made the analysis in early June, so we are partially using projected figures)

  1. Infectious disease is the top area with 55 studies, projected to 89 over the two full months. The top indication is COVID-19 (92% of infectious disease studies).
  2. Neurology has had 13 studies, projected to 20 over the two full months. Top indications have been Alzheimer’s disease and migraine.
  3. Dermatology had 11 studies, projected to 20 over the two full months. Psoriasis and atopic dermatitis have been the top indications.

May & June_ Top Therapeutic Areas


Another shift is evident here, which, from a site perspective, is quite positive. The top three therapeutic areas account for 57% of all studies. This can be thought of as continued proactive planning for future studies as well as for paused ones that are restarting. The overall number of studies we are observing is also increasing.


Key Takeaways

  • The number of trials planned has not been significantly impacted by COVID-19, which probably no one could have predicted a few months ago. In fact, sponsors have been extremely proactive with beginning to plan studies even further in advance of anticipated initiation.
  • Huge increase in the number of infectious disease opportunities. This can be attributed almost entirely to the development of treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics for COVID-19.
  • Clinical development in some therapeutic areas has been affected more than in others. Some of these include high-risk populations and “elective” procedures. The latter does not necessarily refer to cosmetic procedures, but rather to what hospitals and maybe state health boards designate as such, like biopsies and fibroscans.
  • Changes in study design for patient, site staff, and public safety. Patient and monitor visits are changing.


For more insight into our data and projections, click here to speak to a representative.

ClinEdge Staff

Post by ClinEdge Staff -

Subscribe to Our Blog

Most Popular