Statistical considerations of noninferiority, bioequivalence and equivalence testing in biosimilars studies
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In recent years, the development of follow-on biological products (biosimilars) has received increasing attention. The dissertation covers statistical methods related to three topics of Non-inferiority (NI), Bioequivalence (BE) and Equivalence in demonstrating biosimilarity. For NI, one of the key requirements is constancy assumption, that is, the effect of reference treatment is the same in current NI trials as in historical superiority trials. However if a covariate interacts with the treatment arms, then changes in distribution of this covariate will result in violation of constancy assumption. We propose a modified covariate-adjustment fixed margin method, and recommend it based on its performance characteristics in comparison with other methods. Topic two is related to BE inference for log-normal distributed data. Two drugs are bioequivalent if the difference of a pharmacokinetics (PK) parameter of two products falls within prespecified margins. In the presence of unspecified variances, existing methods like two one-sided tests and Bayesian analysis in BE setting limit our knowledge on the extent that inference of BE is affected by the variability of the PK parameter. We propose a likelihood approach that retains the unspecified variances in the model and partitions the entire likelihood function into two components: F-statistic function for variances and t-statistic function for difference of PK parameter. The advantage of the proposed method over existing methods is it helps identify range of variances where BE is more likely to be achieved. In the third topic, we extend the proposed likelihood method for Equivalence inference, where data is often normal distributed. In this part, we demonstrate an additional advantage of the proposed method over current analysis methods such as likelihood ratio test and Bayesian analysis in Equivalence setting. The proposed likelihood method produces results that are same or comparable to current analysis methods in general case when model parameters are independent. However it yields better results in special cases when model parameters are dependent, for example the ratio of variances is directly proportional to the ratio of means. Our research results suggest the proposed likelihood method serves a better alternative than the current analysis methods to address BE/Equivalence inference.