Randomization as a basis for inference in noninferiority trials

Brian L Wiens
Pharmaceutical Statistics 2006, 5 (4): 265-71
Noninferiority testing in clinical trials is commonly understood in a Neyman-Pearson framework, and has been discussed in a Bayesian framework as well. In this paper, we discuss noninferiority testing in a Fisherian framework, in which the only assumption necessary for inference is the assumption of randomization of treatments to study subjects. Randomization plays an important role in not only the design but also the analysis of clinical trials, no matter the underlying inferential field. The ability to utilize permutation tests depends on assumptions around exchangeability, and we discuss the possible uses of permutation tests in active control noninferiority analyses. The other practical implications of this paper are admittedly minor but lead to better understanding of the historical and philosophical development of active control noninferiority testing. The conclusion may also frame discussion of other complicated issues in noninferiority testing, such as the role of an intention to treat analysis.

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