Fulyzaq® from Napo/Salix was the first drug ever to be approved using an adaptive two-stage "seamless" clinical trial design. However, when Napo Pharmaceuticals sought orphan drug status for Crofelemer (made from the croton lechleri plant, pictured above left), it received a short window from the FDA in which to complete a Phase 3 trial for safety and efficacy. Aiming to diminish both time and cost, Napo submitted an adaptive design for a Crofelemer trial to the FDA. Initially, the design was rejected on grounds that it would not demonstrate strong control of the type-1 error rate.
Napo then approached Cytel consultants which advised it to consider a seamless adaptive trial. A seamless adaptive trial combines 2 phases of a study into one trial, thereby allowing a trial to complete within a short window. Using appropriate techniques, it is possible to conduct such studies while maintaining strong control of type-1 error.
A seamless adaptive design may be operationally seamless or inferentially seamless. An operationally seamless design is one in which a confirmatory trial proceeds after an exploratory one, but the data from the two are kept distinct. By contrast, an inferentially seamless trial combines data from both phases to make the final inference. Due to these two varieties of seamless adaptive designs, Napo/Salix had the following 3 trial designs from which to choose: