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Systematic reviews in paediatric MS and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease exemplify shortcomings in methods used to evaluate therapies in rare conditions: STUDY




















Image Source: MEDICALNEWSTODAY


Abstract

Background
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard design of clinical research to assess interventions. However, RCTs cannot always be applied for practical or ethical reasons. To investigate the current practices in rare diseases, we review evaluations of therapeutic interventions in paediatric multiple sclerosis (MS) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). In particular, we shed light on the endpoints used, the study designs implemented and the statistical methodologies applied.

Methods
We conducted literature searches to identify relevant primary studies. Data on study design, objectives, endpoints, patient characteristics, randomization and masking, type of intervention, control, withdrawals and statistical methodology were extracted from the selected studies. The risk of bias and the quality of the studies were assessed.

Results
Twelve (seven) primary studies on paediatric MS (CJD) were included in the qualitative synthesis. No double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial for evaluating interventions in paediatric MS has been published yet. Evidence from one open-label RCT is available. The observational studies are before-after studies or controlled studies. Three of the seven selected studies on CJD are RCTs, of which two received the maximum mark on the Oxford Quality Scale. Four trials are controlled observational studies.

Conclusions
Evidence from double-blind RCTs on the efficacy of treatments appears to be variable between rare diseases. With regard to paediatric conditions it remains to be seen what impact regulators will have through e.g., paediatric investigation plans. Overall, there is space for improvement by using innovative trial designs and data analysis techniques.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by BIOMEDCENTRAL
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