Efficacy and toxicity differences in lung cancer populations in the era of clinical trials globalization: The 'common arm' approach

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4 Scopus citations


Historically, notable variability has been observed in clinical trial outcomes between different regions and populations worldwide, even when employing the same cytotoxic regimen in lung cancer. These divergent results underscore the inherent challenges in interpreting trials conducted abroad and raise questions regarding the general applicability of transnational clinical trials. Various reasons have been postulated to account for these differences in efficacy and toxicity, including trial design, eligibility criteria, patient demographics and, perhaps most intriguingly, population-related pharmacogenomics. However, without methodology to control for such variables, these hypotheses remain largely untested. The authors previously developed the 'common arm' approach in order to directly compare efficacy and toxicity results of trials simultaneously performed in different countries. By standardizing clinical trial-associated variables such as treatment regimens (dose, schedule, and so on), eligibility, staging, response and toxicity criteria, this approach has the potential to determine the underlying reasons for divergences in trial outcomes across countries, and whether population-associated polymorphisms contribute to these differences. In the past decade, Japanese and US investigators have applied the common arm analytic method to trials in both extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and advanced nonSCLC. In the SCLC analysis, a comparison of the cisplatin/irinotecan arms from both trials revealed significant differences in response rates and overall survival. Significant differences were also observed in the distribution of gender and performance status. The common arm analysis in nonSCLC included two trials from Japan and one from the USA, each containing a 'common' carboplatin/paclitaxel arm. Clinical results were similar in the two Japanese trials, but were significantly different from the US trial with regard to survival, neutropenia, febrile neutropenia and anemia. The underlying basis for these divergent outcomes is discussed. The common arm methodology provides a template for identifying and interpreting patient outcome differences across populations, and is an instructive lesson in the burgeoning era of clinical trials globalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1591-1596
Number of pages6
JournalExpert Review of Anticancer Therapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • clinical trials
  • common arm
  • globalization
  • lung cancer
  • pharmacogenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Oncology


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