A number of the Cytel team were in London, 14th – 17th May 2017 for the PSI Annual conference. The PSI Conference is an important forum for statisticians and we found this year's event insightful, informative and well attended. In this blog, we'll summarize some of the particular highlights from the sessions that our team members attended.
Keynote Session Day 1: Richard Stephens - 40 years of PSI - From Patients Staying Ignorant, Through Patients Showing Interest, to Patients Starting Involvement
Keynote Session Day 2: David Spiegelhalter - Engaging without manipulating: the balanced communication of statistics
David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge and well-known as an engaging speaker. He discussed with the delegates the inherent challenge faced by statisticians as they aim to engage an audience’s interest in the data they are presenting, without misleading. He explained that numbers are often deliberately manipulated – whether to alarm or reassure us, and used as rhetorical devices to influence our emotions. Of course, anyone who consumes mainstream media is regularly on the receiving end of this approach. One of the examples Spiegelhalter discussed was an example of how a newspaper misrepresented the dangers of eating bacon by presenting its associated relative risk of bowel cancer rather than the absolute risk. As statisticians in biopharma, we liaise daily with a wide range of stakeholders who rely on us to communicate data responsibly. It is critical that we carefully walk this line between engagement and accuracy.
Biosimilar Development Session: Chair - Byron Jones (Novartis)
The final presentation in the stream from Koenig provided a review of those clinical trials which have led up to biosimilar drug approvals. The review examines a number of aspects including the number of trials in each stage of development and the type of trial design used. This provides useful insights for sponsors involved in biosimilar development, and the associated systematic review article is available open access in the  British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Bayesian Methodology Session: Chair - Rachel Moate (Medimmune)
This session was a highlight for Andrea Hita, a Data Scientist from our Barcelona office. GlaxoSmithKline presented a tool that they have developed for prior functions elicitation when Bayesian approaches are needed for different clinical trial projects. Clinical experts have a wealth of valuable knowledge available, but there is a challenge in converting that knowledge into specific prior functions. The interactive tool developed by GlaxoSmithKline helps to bridge that gap, by both educating the clinical experts on some of the main statistical concepts that are behind these functions, and helping them to translate their insights about a specific project, into a mathematical function that can later be used to provide input into the project. This tool can be extremely helpful when planning a clinical trial, and provide a platform for interaction between the statistician and the clinician.
Other important themes of the conference included Estimands, the latest insights on regulatory hot topics, and innovative methodologies. Cytel's Madhusmita Panda also presented in the Innovative Methodology session on the topic of Measuring Intergroup Agreement and Disagreement.
In an upcoming blog, we will share a summary of her interesting talk, and her slides. To get an update from the Cytel blog direct to your inbox click below.
1) Mielke, J., Jilma, B., Koenig, F. and Jones, B. (2016). Clinical trials for authorized biosimilars in the European Union: a systematic review. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 82(6), pp.1444-1457.