Failsafe Automation of Phase II Clinical Trial Interim Monitoring for Stopping Rules
Day, Roger S.
Clinical Trials 2010; 7(1): 78-84
BACKGROUND: In Phase II clinical trials in cancer, preventing the treatment of patients on a study when current data demonstrate that the treatment is insufficiently active or too toxic has obvious benefits, both in protecting patients and in reducing sponsor costs. Considerable efforts have gone into experimental designs for Phase II clinical trials with flexible sample size, usually implemented by early stopping rules. The intended benefits will not ensue, however, if the design is not followed. Despite the best intentions, failures can occur for many reasons. PURPOSE: The main goal is to develop an automated system for interim monitoring, as a backup system supplementing the protocol team, to ensure that patients are protected. A secondary goal is to stimulate timely recording of patient assessments. METHODS: We developed key concepts and performance needs, then designed, implemented, and deployed a software solution embedded in the clinical trials database system. RESULTS: The system has been in place since October 2007. One clinical trial tripped the automated monitor, resulting in e-mails that initiated statistician/investigator review in timely fashion. LIMITATIONS: Several essential contributing activities still require human intervention, institutional policy decisions, and institutional commitment of resources. CONCLUSIONS: We believe that implementing the concepts presented here will provide greater assurance that interim monitoring plans are followed and that patients are protected from inadequate response or excessive toxicity. This approach may also facilitate wider acceptance and quicker implementation of new interim monitoring algorithms.
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