Association of National Cancer Institute-Sponsored Clinical Trial Network Group Studies with Guideline Care and New Drug Indications

Joseph M. Unger, Van T. Nghiem, Dawn L. Hershman, Riha Vaidya, Michael Leblanc, Charles D. Blanke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Importance: National Cancer Institute Clinical Trial Network (NCTN) groups serve a vital role in identifying effective new antineoplastic regimens. However, the downstream clinical effect of their trials has not been systematically examined. Objective: To examine the association of NCTN trials with guideline care and new drug indications. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study evaluated phase 3 SWOG Cancer Research Network clinical trials from January 1, 1980, through June 30, 2017. Only completed trials with published results were included. To be considered practice influential (PI), a trial must have been associated with guideline care through its inclusion in National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) clinical guidelines or US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new drug approvals in favor of a recommended treatment. Data were analyzed from June 15, 2018, through March 29, 2019. Main Outcomes and Measures: Estimated overall rate of PI trials, as well as trends over time. The total federal investment supporting the set of trials was also determined. Results: In total, 182 trials consisting of 148028 patients were studied. Eighty-two studies (45.1%; 95% CI, 37.7%-52.6%) were PI, of which 70 (38.5%) influenced NCCN guidelines, 6 (3.3%) influenced FDA new drug approvals, and 6 (3.3%) influenced both. The number of PI trials was 47 of 65 (72.3%) among those with positive findings and 35 of 117 (29.9%) among those with negative findings. Thus, 35 of 82 PI trials (42.7%) were based on studies with negative findings, with nearly half of these studies (17 of 35 [48.6%]) reaffirming standard of care compared with experimental therapy. The total federal investment spent in conducting the trials was $1.36 billion (2017 US dollars), a rate of $7.5 million per study or $16.6 million per PI trial. Conclusions and Relevance: Nearly half of all phase 3 trials by one of the NCTN's largest groups were associated with guideline care or new drug indications, including those with positive and negative findings. Compared with the costs of a new drug approval in pharmaceutical companies, typically estimated at more than $1 billion, the amount of federal funds invested to provide this valuable evidence was modest. These results suggest that the NCTN program contributes clinically meaningful, cost-efficient evidence to guide patient care..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1910593
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 4 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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