HIV clinical trials 2017 10 17() 1-12 doi 10.1080/15284336.2017.1379676
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness protecting at-risk individuals from HIV-1 infection. Despite this record of effectiveness, concerns persist about the diminished protective effect observed in women compared with men and the influence of adherence and risk behaviors on effectiveness in targeted subpopulations. Furthermore, the high prophylactic efficacy of the first PrEP agent, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC), presents challenges for demonstrating the efficacy of new candidates. Trials of new agents would typically require use of non-inferiority (NI) designs in which acceptable efficacy for an experimental agent is determined using pre-defined margins based on the efficacy of the proven active comparator (i.e. TDF/FTC) in placebo-controlled trials. Setting NI margins is a critical step in designing registrational studies. Under- or over-estimation of the margin can call into question the utility of the study in the registration package. The dependence on previous placebo-controlled trials introduces the same issues as external/historical controls. These issues will need to be addressed using trial design features such as re-estimated NI margins, enrichment strategies, run-in periods, crossover between study arms, and adaptive re-estimation of sample sizes. These measures and other innovations can help to ensure that new PrEP agents are made available to the public using stringent standards of evidence.