Characteristics of clinical trials in rare vs. common diseases: A register-based Latvian study

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Abstract

Background Conducting clinical studies in small populations may be very challenging; therefore quality of clinical evidence may differ between rare and non-rare disease therapies. Objective This register-based study aims to evaluate the characteristics of clinical trials in rare diseases conducted in Latvia and compare them with clinical trials in more common conditions. Methods The EU Clinical Trials Register (clinicaltrialsregister.eu) was used to identify interventional clinical trials related to rare diseases (n = 51) and to compose a control group of clinical trials in non-rare diseases (n = 102) for further comparison of the trial characteristics. Results We found no significant difference in the use of overall survival as a primary endpoint in clinical trials between rare and non-rare diseases (9.8% vs. 13.7%, respectively). However, clinical trials in rare diseases were less likely to be randomized controlled trials (62.7% vs. 83.3%). Rare and non-rare disease clinical trials varied in masking, with rare disease trials less likely to be double blind (45.1% vs. 63.7%). Active comparators were less frequently used in rare disease trials (36.4% vs. 58.8% of controlled trials). Clinical trials in rare diseases enrolled fewer participants than those in non-rare diseases: In Latvia (mean 18.3 vs. 40.2 subjects, respectively), in the European Economic Area (mean 181.0 vs. 626.9 subjects), and in the whole clinical trial (mean 335.8 vs. 1406.3 subjects). Although, we found no significant difference in trial duration between the groups (mean 38.3 vs. 36.4 months). Conclusions The current study confirms that clinical trials in rare diseases vary from those in non-rare conditions, with notable differences in enrollment, randomization, masking, and the use of active comparators. However, we found no significant difference in trial duration and the use of overall survival as a primary endpoint.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0194494
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database

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