Liability issues for data monitoring committee members.


In randomized clinical trials, a data monitoring committee (DMC) is often appointed to review interim data to determine whether there is early convincing evidence of intervention benefit, lack of benefit or harm to study participants. Because DMCs bear serious responsibility for participant safety, their members may be legally liable for their actions. Despite more than three decades of experiences with DMCs, the issues of liability and indemnification have yet to receive appropriate attention from either government or industry sponsors. In industry-sponsored trials, DMC members are usually asked to sign an agreement delineating their responsibilities and operating procedures. While these agreements may include language on indemnification, such language sometimes protects only the sponsor rather than the DMC members. In government-sponsored trials, there has been even less structure, since typically there are no signed agreements regarding DMC activities. This paper discusses these issues and suggests sample language for indemnification agreements to protect DMC members. This type of language should be included in DMC charters and in all consulting agreements signed by DMC members.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

DeMets, David L, Thomas R Fleming, Frank Rockhold, Barry Massie, Thomas Merchant, Alan Meisel, Barbara Mishkin, Janet Wittes, et al. (2004). Liability issues for data monitoring committee members. Clin Trials, 1(6). pp. 525–531. 10.1191/1740774504cn54oa Retrieved from

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Frank Wesley Rockhold

Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Frank is a full time Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Faculty Director for Biostatistics at Duke University Medical Center, Affiliate Professor of Biostatistics at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Strategic Consultant at Hunter Rockhold, Inc.  His 40+-year career includes senior research positions at Lilly, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline, where he retired as Chief Safety Officer and Senior Vice President of Global Clinical Safety and Pharmacovigilance.  He has held faculty appointments at six different universities.    Dr. Rockhold served for 9 years on the board of directors of the non-profit CDISC, most recently as Chairman, and is past president of the Society for Clinical Trials and a past member of the PCORI Clinical Trials Advisory Panel. He is currently Chair of the Board of the Frontier Science and Technology Research Foundation and a technical advisor to EMA.

Dr. Rockhold has diverse research interests and consulting experience in industry and academia including clinical trials design, data monitoring, benefit/risk, safety and pharmacovigilance and has been a leader in the scientific community in promoting data disclosure and transparency in clinical research.    Frank is widely published in major scientific journals across a wide variety of research topics.

Frank holds a BA in Statistics from The University of Connecticut, an ScM in Biostatistics from The Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in Biostatistics from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. Frank is an Elected Fellow of both the American Statistical Association and the Society for Clinical Trials, a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, an Accredited Professional Statistician, PStat®, and a Chartered Statistician, CStat.  

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