How well can you predict the outcome of clinical trials? Not as well as you may think

Researchers might not be as great at determining the likelihood of a clinical trial’s success as they think they are.

If researchers were better at forecasting the results of clinical trials — and, say, could avoid having to run trials that will inevitably fail — more resources could be devoted to trials that might succeed.

But, it turns out, researchers might not be great at determining the likelihood of a trial’s success.

In unpublished research, McGill bioethicist Jonathan Kimmelman and colleagues asked cancer experts to forecast the probability of more than a dozen clinical trials hitting their primary endpoint. They found that the predictions overall were not very accurate, and, if anything, were too pessimistic.

Kimmelman presented his research last week at Harvard Medical School and spoke to STAT afterward about the importance of forecasting in clinical trials.

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