Optimizing Sample Size Allocation and Power in a Bayesian Two-Stage Drop-the-Losers Design

When a researcher desires to test several treatment arms against a control arm, a two-stage adaptive design can be more efficient than a single-stage design where patients are equally allocated to all treatment arms and the control. We see this type of approach in clinical trials as a seamless Phase II–Phase III design. These designs require more statistical support and are less straightforward to plan and analyze than a standard single-stage design. To diminish the barriers associated with a Bayesian two-stage drop-the-losers design, we built a user-friendly point-and-click graphical user interface with R Shiny to aid researchers in planning such designs by allowing them to easily obtain trial operating characteristics, estimate statistical power and sample size, and optimize patient allocation in each stage to maximize power. We assume that endpoints are distributed normally with unknown but common variance between treatments. We recommend this software as an easy way to engage statisticians and researchers in two-stage designs as well as to actively investigate the power of two-stage designs relative to more traditional approaches. The software is freely available at https://github.com/stefangraw/Allocation-Power-Optimizer.