A preplanned multi-stage platform trial for discovering multiple superior treatments with control of FWER and power

Abstract: There is a growing interest in the implementation of platform trials, which provide the flexibility to incorporate new treatment arms during the trial and the ability to halt treatments early based on lack of benefit or observed superiority. In such trials, it can be important to ensure that error rates are controlled. This paper introduces a multi-stage design that enables the addition of new treatment arms, at any point, in a pre-planned manner within a platform trial, while still maintaining control over the family-wise error rate. This paper focuses on finding the required sample size to achieve a desired level of statistical power when treatments are continued to be tested even after a superior treatment has already been found. This may be of interest if there are other sponsors treatments which are also superior to the current control or multiple doses being tested. The calculations to determine the expected sample size is given. A motivating trial is presented in which the sample size of different configurations is studied. Additionally the approach is compared to running multiple separate trials and it is shown that in many scenarios if family wise error rate control is needed there may not be benefit in using a platform trial when comparing the sample size of the trial.


A multi-arm multi-stage platform design that allows pre-planned
addition of arms while still controlling the family-wise error

Abstract: There is growing interest in platform trials that allow for adding of new treatment arms as the trial progresses as well as being able to stop treatments part way through the trial for either lack of benefit/futility or for superiority. In some situations, platform trials need to guarantee that error rates are controlled. This paper presents a multi-stage design that allows additional arms to be added in a platform trial in a preplanned fashion, while still controlling the family wise error rate. A method is given to compute the sample size required to achieve a desired level of power and we show how the distribution of the sample size and the expected sample size can be found. A motivating trial is presented which focuses on two settings, with the first being a set number of stages per active treatment arm and the second being a set total number of stages, with treatments that are added later getting fewer stages. Through this example we show that the proposed method results in a smaller sample size while still controlling the errors compared to running multiple separate trials.


Design of platform trials with a change in the control treatment arm

Platform trials are a more efficient way of testing multiple treatments compared to running separate trials. In this paper we consider platform trials where, if a treatment is found to be superior to the control, it will become the new standard of care (and the control in the platform). The remaining treatments are then tested against this new control. In such a setting, one can either keep the information on both the new standard of care and the other active treatments before the control is changed or one could discard this information when testing for benefit of the remaining treatments. We will show analytically and numerically that retaining the information collected before the change in control can be detrimental to the power of the study. Specifically, we consider the overall power, the probability that the active treatment with the greatest treatment effect is found during the trial. We also consider the conditional power of the active treatments, the probability a given treatment can be found superior against the current control. We prove when, in a multi-arm multi-stage trial where no arms are added, retaining the information is detrimental to both overall and conditional power of the remaining treatments. This loss of power is studied for a motivating example. We then discuss the effect on platform trials in which arms are added later. On the basis of these observations we discuss different aspects to consider when deciding whether to run a continuous platform trial or whether one may be better running a new trial.