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A platform trial in practice: adding a new experimental research arm to the ongoing confirmatory FLAIR trial in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Howard, D. R., Hockaday, A., Brown, J. M., Gregory, W. M., Todd, S. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9981-923X, Munir, T., Oughton, J. B., Dimbleby, C. and Hillmen, P. (2021) A platform trial in practice: adding a new experimental research arm to the ongoing confirmatory FLAIR trial in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Trials, 22 (1). 38. ISSN 1745-6215

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1186/s13063-020-04971-2

Abstract/Summary

Background The FLAIR trial in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia has a randomised, controlled, open-label, confirmatory, platform design. FLAIR was successfully amended to include an emerging promising experimental therapy to expedite its assessment, greatly reducing the time to reach the primary outcome compared to running a separate trial and without compromising the validity of the research or the ability to recruit to the trial and report the outcomes. The methodological and practical issues are presented, describing how they were addressed to ensure the amendment was a success. Methods FLAIR was designed as a two-arm trial requiring 754 patients. In stage 2, two new arms were added: a new experimental arm and a second control arm to protect the trial in case of a change in practice. In stage 3, the original experimental arm was closed as its planned recruitment target was reached. In total, 1516 participants will be randomised to the trial. Results The changes to the protocol and randomisation to add and stop arms were made seamlessly without pausing recruitment. The statistical considerations to ensure the results for the original and new hypotheses are unbiased were approved following peer review by oversight committees, Cancer Research UK, ethical and regulatory committees and pharmaceutical partners. These included the use of concurrent comparators in case of any stage effect, appropriate control of the type I error rate and consideration of analysis methods across trial stages. The operational aspects of successfully implementing the amendments are described, including gaining approvals and additional funding, data management requirements and implementation at centres. Conclusions FLAIR is an exemplar of how an emerging experimental therapy can be assessed within an existing trial structure without compromising the conduct, reporting or validity of the trial. This strategy offered considerable resource savings and allowed the new experimental therapy to be assessed within a confirmatory trial in the UK years earlier than would have otherwise been possible. Despite the clear efficiencies, treatment arms are rarely added to ongoing trials in practice. This paper demonstrates how this strategy is acceptable, feasible and beneficial to patients and the wider research community.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Mathematics and Statistics > Applied Statistics
ID Code:95444
Publisher:Springer

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