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Surprisingly, It Worked

Researchers are not so good at gauging whether a clinical trial will be successful, Stat News reports.

A team led by McGill University's Jonathan Kimmelman asked cancer researchers to predict whether certain clinical trials would make their primary endpoint, Stat News says, noting that the work isn't yet published. It adds that the cancer researchers queried tended to underestimate trials that would meet their endpoints.

"There's a perception that the expert community is overly optimistic about the new and flashy treatments coming down the line," Kimmelman tells Stat News in a Q&A. "But what our data seem to suggest is that people have internalized just how hard it is to beat the standard of care in clinical trials."

Kimmelman tells Stat News that both investigators and funders use such predictions to determine whether trials are worth running as well as how to present the trial to prospective participants during the informed consent process. He adds, though, that even trials that are perceived to have a low probability of meeting its endpoint might still be seen to be worthwhile to do if it has high utility.

Stat News notes that Kimmelman had a separate paper out last summer that found that researchers overestimated the extent to which preclinical data could be reproduced.