In the future, clinical trials will have an increased emphasis on pragmatism, providing a practical description of the effects of new treatments in realistic clinical settings. Accomplishing pragmatism requires better summaries of the totality of the evidence in ways that clinical trials consumers---patients, physicians, insurers---find transparent and allow for informed benefit:risk decision-making. The current approach to the analysis of clinical trials is to analyze efficacy and safety separately and then combine these analyses into a benefit:risk assessment. Many assume that this will effectively describe the impact on patients. But this approach is suboptimal for evaluating the totality of effects on patients. We discuss methods for benefit:risk assessment that have greater pragmatism than methods that separately analyze efficacy and safety. These include the concepts of within-patient analyses and composite benefit:risk endpoints with a goal of understanding how to analyze one patient before trying to figure out how to analyze many. We discuss the desirability of outcome ranking (DOOR) and introduce the partial credit strategy using an example in a clinical trial evaluating the effects of a new antibiotic. As part of the example we introduce a strategy to engage patients as a resource to inform benefit:risk analyses consistent with the goal of measuring and weighing outcomes that are most important from the patient's perspective. We describe a broad vision for the future of clinical trials consistent with increased pragmatism. Greater focus on using endpoints to analyze patients rather than patients to analyze endpoints particularly in late-phase/stage clinical trials is an important part of this vision.
Keywords: DOOR; benefit:risk; clinical trials; partial credit strategy; pragmatism.