Does the decision in a validation process of a surrogate endpoint change with level of significance of treatment effect? A proposal on validation of surrogate endpoints

Y Sertdemir, R Burgut
Contemporary Clinical Trials 2009, 30 (1): 8-12

BACKGROUND: In recent years the use of surrogate end points (S) has become an interesting issue. In clinical trials, it is important to get treatment outcomes as early as possible. For this reason there is a need for surrogate endpoints (S) which are measured earlier than the true endpoint (T). However, before a surrogate endpoint can be used it must be validated. For a candidate surrogate endpoint, for example time to recurrence, the validation result may change dramatically between clinical trials. The aim of this study is to show how the validation criterion (R(2)(trial)) proposed by Buyse et al. are influenced by the magnitude of treatment effect with an application using real data.

METHODS: The criterion R(2)(trial) proposed by Buyse et al. (2000) is applied to the four data sets from colon cancer clinical trials (C-01, C-02, C-03 and C-04). Each clinical trial is analyzed separately for treatment effect on survival (true endpoint) and recurrence free survival (surrogate endpoint) and this analysis is done also for each center in each trial. Results are used for standard validation analysis. The centers were grouped by the Wald statistic in 3 equal groups.

RESULTS: Validation criteria R(2)(trial) were 0.641 95% CI (0.432-0.782), 0.223 95% CI (0.008-0.503), 0.761 95% CI (0.550-0.872) and 0.560 95% CI (0.404-0.687) for C-01, C-02, C-03 and C-04 respectively. The R(2)(trial) criteria changed by the Wald statistics observed for the centers used in the validation process. Higher the Wald statistic groups are higher the R(2)(trial) values observed.

CONCLUSION: The recurrence free survival is not a good surrogate for overall survival in clinical trials with non significant treatment effects and moderate for significant treatment effects. This shows that the level of significance of treatment effect should be taken into account in validation process of surrogate endpoints.

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