Recommendations for data monitoring committees from the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative.
Background/aims Use of data monitoring committees to oversee clinical trials was first proposed nearly 50 years ago. Since then, data monitoring committee use in clinical trials has increased and evolved. Nonetheless, there are no well-defined criteria for determining the need for a data monitoring committee, and considerable variability exists in data monitoring committee composition and conduct. To understand and describe the role and function of data monitoring committees, and establish best practices for data monitoring committee trial oversight, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative-a public-private partnership to improve clinical trials-launched a multi-stakeholder project. Methods The data monitoring committee project team included 16 individuals charged with (1) clarifying the purpose of data monitoring committees, (2) identifying best practices for independent data monitoring committee conduct, (3) describing effective communication practices, and (4) developing strategies for training data monitoring committee members. Evidence gathering included a survey, a series of focus group discussions, and a 2-day expert meeting aimed at achieving consensus opinions that form the foundation of our data monitoring committee recommendations. Results We define the role of the data monitoring committee as an advisor to the research sponsor on whether to continue, modify, or terminate a trial based on periodic assessment of trial data. Data monitoring committees should remain independent from the sponsor and be composed of members with no relevant conflicts of interest. Representation on a data monitoring committee generally should include at least one clinician with expertise in the therapeutic area being studied, a biostatistician, and a designated chairperson who has experience with clinical trials and data monitoring. Data monitoring committee meetings are held periodically to evaluate the unmasked data from ongoing trials, but the content and conduct of meetings may vary depending on specific goals or topics for deliberation. To guide data monitoring committee conduct and communication plans, a charter consistent with the protocol's research design and statistical analysis plan should be developed and agreed upon by the sponsor and the data monitoring committee prior to patient enrollment. We recommend concise and flexible charters that explain roles, responsibilities, operational issues, and how data monitoring committee recommendations are generated and communicated. The demand for data monitoring committee members appears to exceed the current pool of qualified individuals. To prepare a new generation of trained data monitoring committee members, we encourage a combination of didactic educational programs, practical experience, and skill development through apprenticeships and mentoring by experienced data monitoring committee members. Conclusion Our recommendations address data monitoring committee use, conduct, communication practices, and member preparation and training. Furthermore recommendations form the foundation for ongoing efforts to improve clinical trial oversight and enhance the safety and integrity of clinical research. These recommendations serve as a call to action for implementation of best practices that benefit study participants, study sponsors, and society.
Calis, KA; Archdeacon, P; Bain, R; DeMets, D; Donohue, M; Elzarrad, MK; Forrest, A; McEachern, J; Pencina, MJ; Perlmutter, J; Lewis, RJ
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