Abstract 3622: End of Trial Period for Randomized Controlled Cardiology Trials: Is patient safety monitored and protected?
Background: The post trial period is the period after the end of study drug administration. The Declaration of Helsinki (DOH) states that “at the conclusion of the study, every patient entered into the study should be assured of access to the best proven prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic methods identified by the study.” It further adds that “post trial access arrangements or other care must be described in the study protocol so the ethical review committee may consider such arrangements during its review.” Therefore our objectives were:
to determine whether research trial protocols systematically consider post trial period issues including planned follow-up and patient surveillance in the post trial period; and
to assess if consent forms addressed end of trial issues.
Methods: We searched the research ethics board (REB) databases at 2 academic institutions in Toronto from 1995 to 2006 to identify approved randomized clinical trials of chronic medical therapies for cardiac conditions.
Results: Fourty-two studies were identified including 18 heart failure and 15 coronary artery disease trials. Thirty-eight of these trials were industry funded. Almost all trials (n=37) ended study drug abruptly at the last clinic visit, while only 4 studies offered a clinical visit post trial termination, and an additional 3 reported a telephone contact after trial completion. Only 5 trials submitted consent forms to the REB with a discussion of the post trial period. After REB review, no additional consent forms addressed the post trial period. When comparing the time period before and after the updated version of the DOH in 2000, there was a trend towards a decline in addressing post trial care (p=0.08).
Conclusion: The majority of cardiac trials end study drug abruptly with unknown and potentially negative consequences, and most patients have no systematic post trial follow up from trial investigators. Study patients are also not made aware of the post trial period, as the majority of study consent forms do not discuss post trial care. Therefore, an important aspect of clinical trial design, the post trial period, could be improved by systematic follow-up described in the protocol, and full discussion of this aspect of trial participation in the consent form.