Statistical power calculations for mixed pharmacokinetic study designs using a population approach

AAPS J. 2014 Sep;16(5):1110-8. doi: 10.1208/s12248-014-9641-4. Epub 2014 Jul 11.


Simultaneous modelling of dense and sparse pharmacokinetic data is possible with a population approach. To determine the number of individuals required to detect the effect of a covariate, simulation-based power calculation methodologies can be employed. The Monte Carlo Mapped Power method (a simulation-based power calculation methodology using the likelihood ratio test) was extended in the current study to perform sample size calculations for mixed pharmacokinetic studies (i.e. both sparse and dense data collection). A workflow guiding an easy and straightforward pharmacokinetic study design, considering also the cost-effectiveness of alternative study designs, was used in this analysis. Initially, data were simulated for a hypothetical drug and then for the anti-malarial drug, dihydroartemisinin. Two datasets (sampling design A: dense; sampling design B: sparse) were simulated using a pharmacokinetic model that included a binary covariate effect and subsequently re-estimated using (1) the same model and (2) a model not including the covariate effect in NONMEM 7.2. Power calculations were performed for varying numbers of patients with sampling designs A and B. Study designs with statistical power >80% were selected and further evaluated for cost-effectiveness. The simulation studies of the hypothetical drug and the anti-malarial drug dihydroartemisinin demonstrated that the simulation-based power calculation methodology, based on the Monte Carlo Mapped Power method, can be utilised to evaluate and determine the sample size of mixed (part sparsely and part densely sampled) study designs. The developed method can contribute to the design of robust and efficient pharmacokinetic studies.

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / administration & dosage
  • Antimalarials / economics
  • Antimalarials / pharmacokinetics*
  • Artemisinins / administration & dosage
  • Artemisinins / economics
  • Artemisinins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Biomedical Research / economics
  • Biomedical Research / methods
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Research Design / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workflow


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • dihydroartemisinin