Objectives: Treatment switching occurs when patients in a randomized clinical trial switch from the treatment initially assigned to them to another treatment, typically from the control to experimental treatment. This study discusses the issues this raises and possible approaches to addressing them in trials of cancer drugs.
Methods: Stakeholders from around the world were invited to a 1.5-day Workshop in Adelaide, Australia. This study attempts to capture the key points from the discussion and the perspectives of the various stakeholder groups, but is not a formal consensus statement.
Results: Treatment switching raises challenging ethical issues with arguments for and against allowing it. It is increasingly common in cancer drug trials and presents challenges for the interpretation of results by regulators, clinicians, patients, and payers. Proposals are offered for good practice in the design, management, and analysis of trials and wider development programs for cancer drugs in which treatment switching has occurred or is likely to. Recommendations are also offered for further action to improve understanding of the importance and challenges of treatment switching and to promote agreement between key stakeholders on guidelines and other steps to address these challenges.
Conclusions: The handling of treatment switching in trials is of concern to all stakeholders. On the basis of the discussions at the Adelaide International Workshop, there would appear to be common ground on approaches to addressing treatment switching in cancer trials and scope for the development of formal guidelines to inform the work of regulators, payers, industry, trial designers and other stakeholders.