Multiple comparisons in complex clinical trial designs



Multiple comparisons have drawn a great deal of attention in evaluation of statistical evidence in clinical trials for regulatory applications. As the clinical trial methodology is increasingly more complex to properly take into consideration many practical factors, the multiple testing paradigm widely employed for regulatory applications may not suffice to interpret the results of an individual trial and of multiple trials. In a large outcome trial, an increasing need of studying more than one dose complicates a proper application of multiple comparison procedures. Additional challenges surface when a special endpoint, such as mortality, may need to be tested with multiple clinical trials combined, especially under group sequential designs. Another interesting question is how to study mortality or morbidity endpoints together with symptomatic endpoints in an efficient way, where the former type of endpoints are often studied in only one single trial but the latter type of endpoints are usually studied in at least two independent trials. This article is devoted to discussion of insufficiency of such a widely used paradigm applying only per-trial based multiple comparison procedures and to expand the utility of the procedures to such complex trial designs. A number of viable expanded strategies are stipulated.