Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) show considerable variation in symptoms. Treatments targeting an overall improvement in symptomatology may not address what the majority of patients consider to be most important. Here, we propose a composite endpoint for ALS clinical trials that weighs the improvement in symptoms compared with what the patient population actually wants.
An online questionnaire was sent out to a population-based registry in The Netherlands. Patients with ALS were asked to score functional domains with a validated self-reported questionnaire, and rank the order of importance of each domain. This information was used to estimate variability in patient preferences and to develop the Patient-Ranked Order of Function (PROOF) endpoint.
There was extensive variability in patient preferences among the 433 responders. The majority of the patients (62.1%) preferred to prioritise certain symptoms over others when evaluating treatments. The PROOF endpoint was established by comparing each patient in the treatment arm to each patient in the placebo arm, based on their preferred order of functional domains. PROOF averages all pairwise comparisons, and reflects the probability that a patient receiving treatment has a better outcome on domains that are most important to them, compared with a patient receiving placebo. By means of simulation we illustrate how incorporating patient preference may upgrade or downgrade trial results.
The PROOF endpoint provides a balanced patient-focused analysis of the improvement in function and may help to refine the risk–benefit assessment of new treatments for ALS.