Contemporary Clinical Trials
Volume 68 Pages 1-146 (May 2018)
Study Design, Statistical Design, Study Protocols
Design and statistical considerations for studies evaluating the efficacy of a single dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
Original research article
Joshua N. Sampson, Allan Hildesheim, Rolando Herrero, Paula Gonzalez, … Mitchell H. Gail
Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer mortality in women worldwide. Human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 cause about 70% of all cervical cancers. Clinical trials have demonstrated that three doses of either commercially available HPV vaccine, Cervarix ® or Gardasil ®, prevent most new HPV 16/18 infections and associated precancerous lesions. Based on evidence of immunological non-inferiority, 2-dose regimens have been licensed for adolescents in the United States, European Union, and elsewhere. However, if a single dose were effective, vaccine costs would be reduced substantially and the logistics of vaccination would be greatly simplified, enabling vaccination programs in developing countries. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Agencia Costarricense de Investigaciones Biomédicas (ACIB) are conducting, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a large 24,000 girl study to evaluate the efficacy of a 1-dose regimen. The first component of the study is a four-year non-inferiority trial comparing 1- to 2-dose regimens of the two licensed vaccines. The second component is an observational study that estimates the vaccine efficacy (VE) of each regimen by comparing the HPV infection rates in the trial arms to those in a contemporaneous survey group of unvaccinated girls. In this paper, we describe the design and statistical analysis for this study. We explain the advantage of defining non-inferiority on the absolute risk scale when the expected event rate is near 0 and, given this definition, suggest an approach to account for missing clinic visits. We then describe the problem of estimating VE in the absence of a randomized placebo arm and offer our solution.