Comments Submitted: Cancer Clinical Trial Eligibility Criteria: Performance Status

Public Comment

Submitted on: June 25, 2024

Submitted to: U.S. Food and Drug Administration; FDA-2024-D-1377

We responded to a series of three FDA draft guidance documents addressing eligibility criteria for U.S.-based cancer clinical trials. For all three documents, we were supportive of the efforts FDA has taken to make clinical trials more representative of the intended post-approval patient population. We encouraged additional clarity and granularity with regard to operationalizing these draft guidelines, in advance of their final issuance. Further, we agreed that eligibility criteria should be carefully considered, caution against copying and pasting eligibility criteria from the protocol of one study into the draft protocol of a new study and advocate that exclusion criteria should be clearly justified based on safety or ethical reasons.

The main takeaway from the public comments that we submitted on the second guidance in the series (ii) “Cancer Clinical Trial Eligibility Criteria: Performance Status is that we took a strong stance against using Performance Status as an eligibility criterion at all. The measures of performance status commonly used across cancer trial eligibility criteria, the Karnofsky Performance Status Score  (first developed in 1948) and ECOG Performance Status Scale (first developed in 1960), are outdated and highly subjective constructs. Their use as a proxy for disease progression in cancer trial eligibility criteria conflates illness with disability, and results in the discriminatory exclusion of many people with disabilities, which is counter to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Titles II or III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. We encourage FDA to adopt alternative measures that more appropriately reflect both the clinical risks (assessed by laboratory and diagnostic testing) and the individual participant’s experience and preferences.