A narrative review of estimands in drug development and regulatory evaluation: old wine in new barrels?
SourceTrials, 21, 1, (2020), article 671
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: An estimand defines the target of estimation for a clinical trial through specification of the treatment, target population, variable, population-level summary and of the strategies for intercurrent events. A carefully defined estimand aligns the clinical trial design and analysis with the scientific question of interest and adequately accounts for so-called intercurrent events. The ICH E9(R1) addendum suggests five estimand strategies. We evaluated to what extent current practice in drug development and regulatory assessment fits in the estimand framework. METHODS: We systematically evaluated what estimands, especially what strategies for intercurrent events are advised in European Medicines Agency disease guidelines, used in sponsors' trials and additionally requested by the European Medicines Agency in assessment dossiers. We selected four therapeutic areas: nervous system, oncology, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases. For each, we evaluated all disease guidelines with approved drugs, the dossiers of the most recently approved drugs matching the guidelines and corresponding regulatory questions. RESULTS: Strategies for intercurrent events were present in 18 (53%) of 34 guidelines, in all 34 sponsor documentations and in 15 (44%) of 34 sets of regulatory questions. Treatment policy was advised in 13 (38%) guidelines and was applied in 9 corresponding sponsor documentations. Of these 9, it was the sole strategy in 4 cases and accompanied by another strategy in 5 cases. Hypothetical strategy was not advised in guidelines. However, it was the leading strategy applied in 25 (74%) sponsor documentations. Composite strategy was advised in 3 (9%) guidelines and applied accompanied by another strategy in 2 corresponding sponsor documentations. While on treatment strategy was not advised in guidelines, but was applied in 2 sponsor documentations. Principal stratum strategy was advised in 2 guidelines but not applied in corresponding sponsor documentations. Of the regulatory questions, treatment policy was present in 2 cases (6%), hypothetical in 6 cases (18%), composite in 6 cases (18%) and while on treatment in 1 case (3%). CONCLUSIONS: Estimand attributes are present in guidelines, sponsor documentations and regulatory questions, but not described as estimands. Treatment policy was most often advised in guidelines, but hypothetical was the leading strategy applied in sponsor documentations. Thus, results indicate not a full concordance between the regulatory target of estimation and what is actually estimated. The lack of concordance was mostly due to limitations in collection of intercurrent events data to enable a treatment policy strategy. There is, therefore, a need to better define estimands at the design stage and throughout the applications dossiers and assessment reports.
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