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Platform trials are a type of randomized clinical trial that allow simultaneous comparison of multiple intervention groups against a single control group that serves as a common control based on a prespecified interim analysis plan. The platform trial design enables introduction of new interventions after the trial is initiated to evaluate multiple interventions in an ongoing manner using a single overarching protocol called a master (or core) protocol. When multiple treatment candidates are available, rapid scientific therapeutic discoveries may be made. Platform trials have important potential advantages in creating an efficient trial infrastructure that can help address critical clinical questions as the evidence evolves. Platform trials have recently been used in investigations of evolving therapies for patients with COVID-19. The purpose of this Users’ Guide to the Medical Literature is to describe fundamental concepts of platform trials and master protocols and review issues in the conduct and interpretation of these studies. This Users’ Guide is intended to help clinicians and readers understand articles reporting on interventions evaluated using platform trial designs.
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Corresponding Author: Edward J. Mills, PhD, 802-777 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1J5, Canada (email@example.com).
Correction: This article was corrected for a missing author affiliation on January 20, 2022.
Accepted for Publication: November 30, 2021.
Author Contributions: Dr Mills had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: Park, Mills.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Park.
Supervision: Murthy, Mills.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Park reported being a former employee of Cytel and receiving grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the TOGETHER trial. Dr Detry reported being an employee of Berry Consultants LLC, a statistical consulting company that collaborates on numerous platform trials (this work was independent of any of the consulting projects and received no funding). Dr Murthy reported being an investigator for the REMAP-CAP trial, receiving grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and receiving salary support from the Health Research Foundation and Innovative Medicines Canada. Dr Mills reported being an employee of Cytel and being co–principal investigator of the TOGETHER trial. No other disclosures were reported.
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