Design strategies in multiple sclerosis clinical trials. The Cyclosporine Multiple Sclerosis Study Group

Ann Neurol. 1994;36 Suppl:S108-12. doi: 10.1002/ana.410360725.


After analyzing our natural history data on the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) in more than 500 patients followed for 20 years and our experience in several therapeutic trials, we concluded that a phase III (full) trial for efficacy should have certain properties. For a power of 0.8, alpha of 0.05, and attrition rate of 10% per year, we think the trial should have a minimum sample size of 130 (65 in each arm; placebo versus active) if the design is based upon the proportion of subjects worsening by clinical measures. No stratification by entry Extended Disability Status Scale score is needed if worsening is defined as a change of 1.0 units (2 to 0.5 steps) maintained for 90 days for an entry score of 1 to 5.0 units; or 0.5 units (1 to 0.5 steps) if the entry score is 5.5 to 7 units. We need not stratify by course (relapsing-remitting versus relapsing-progressive) but are less certain about progression from the onset. No run-in period is required to define "activity." Minimum time for treatment is 3 years. We review the justification for our conclusions; modifications in sample size that are necessary if survival analysis is used; impact of the interferon-beta trial (future trials will have an "active" control); and alternative strategies possible if magnetic resonance imaging serves as the primary outcome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic / methods*
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic / standards
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Recurrence
  • Research Design / standards
  • Research Design / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cyclosporine