FDA Guidance: A Risk-Based Approach to Monitoring of Clinical Investigations (Q&A)
The FDA has published a new guidance document titled “A Risk-Based Approach to Monitoring of Clinical Investigations Questions and Answers Guidance for Industry,” outlining their expectations for sponsors and clinical investigators regarding risk-based monitoring in clinical trials.
The FDA’s guidance document emphasizes the importance of a risk-based approach to monitoring in clinical trials. This means that sponsors and clinical investigators should prioritize their monitoring efforts based on the risks associated with the trial. For example, if a trial involves a new drug that has never been tested in humans before, the risks associated with the trial are likely to be higher than if the trial involves a drug that has already been approved for use in humans. In this case, the sponsor and clinical investigator should focus their monitoring efforts on the areas of the trial that pose the highest risks.
One of the key elements of the FDA’s guidance is the use of a risk assessment tool to identify and prioritize risks in a clinical trial. The guidance recommends that sponsors and clinical investigators use a risk assessment tool to evaluate the risks associated with the trial and determine which risks are the most important to monitor. This helps ensure that monitoring efforts are focused on the areas of the trial that are most likely to impact patient safety and data integrity.
Here some of the key take away questions and answers of the guidance document:
What is the purpose of the risk assessment, and should sponsors document their methodologies and activities for assessing risk?
- Optimize study quality
- Assess and manage risks during protocol design
- Document risk assessment and update monitoring plans
Should sponsors monitor only risks that are important and identified during their initial risk assessment as likely to occur?
- Monitor important and likely risks
- Address additional risks detected during the investigation
- Ensure comprehensive monitoring plans to identify and address unanticipated risks
What factors should sponsors consider when determining the timing, types, frequency, and extent of monitoring activities?
- Consider investigation and site-specific risks
- Determine types and intensity of monitoring activities
- Evolve monitoring activities based on identified risks and issues
- Account for clinical investigation infrastructures and experience
- Utilize electronic data capture and centralized monitoring when suitable
- Assess staffing adequacy and location of participant visits
How can a risk-based approach to monitoring that includes centralized monitoring help minimize missing data or protocol deviations?
- Centralized monitoring enables systematic evaluation of study conduct
- Allows sponsors to review and compare data for inconsistencies or omissions
- Helps detect potential anomalies and quality issues more quickly
Should the risk-based monitoring approach include processes to ensure that appropriate blinding is maintained?
- Ensuring blinding is maintained is a critical process in risk-based monitoring
- Mitigate risks to blinding in advance of investigation initiation
- Monitor deviations that could lead to unintentional unblinding during the investigation
What elements should sponsors include in monitoring plans?
- Monitoring plans should address study-specific and site-specific risks and manage anticipated and unanticipated risks.
- Emphasize critical risks affecting investigation quality, participant rights, safety, welfare, and collection or analysis of critical clinical data.
- Include a description of the investigation design, blinding, and randomization procedures.
- Detail the sampling plan for identifying specific records and data to be monitored, providing a representative picture of the overall information.
- Describe the issue escalation process, approach to determining the presence of issues at other clinical sites, and systemic problem identification.
How should sponsors follow up on significant issues identified through monitoring, including communication of such issues?
- Thoroughly evaluate significant issues promptly at appropriate levels.
- Conduct root cause analysis and implement corrective and preventive actions promptly.
- Review and revise risk assessment and monitoring plan as needed.
- Examples of actions include improved training, halting enrollment, revising protocol, and modifying vendor service agreements.
- Document and communicate significant issues and actions taken to appropriate parties, including sponsor management, clinical sites, institutional review boards, and regulatory agencies.
How should monitoring activities and the results of these activities be documented and shared with those involved in the investigation?
- Document monitoring activities with details on the date, individuals involved, a summary of reviewed data, identified deficiencies, and actions are taken.
- Include results of monitoring activities in sufficient detail to allow verification of adherence to the monitoring plan.
- Provide reports of monitoring activities to appropriate management and inform the clinical investigator of relevant findings.
As a leader in risk-based quality management and monitoring in clinical trials, Cyntegrity can assist sponsors and clinical investigators in implementing a risk-based approach to monitoring in their clinical trials. Our risk assessment services can help identify and prioritize risks in the trial, using a proprietary risk assessment tool that evaluates risks across multiple dimensions, including patient safety, data integrity, and regulatory compliance. We can also provide centralized monitoring tools to analyze trial data in real-time and identify potential issues before they become significant problems. Additionally, our team of experts can help develop a risk-based monitoring plan tailored to the specific risks associated with the trial.
In conclusion, the FDA’s guidance on a risk-based approach to monitoring in clinical trials is a crucial step towards improving patient safety and data integrity while reducing monitoring costs. Cyntegrity’s expertise in risk-based quality management and monitoring can assist sponsors and clinical investigators in implementing a risk-based approach to monitoring in their clinical trials, ensuring that their trials are conducted in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective manner.