• No study left behind: a network meta-analysis in non-small-cell lung cancer demonstrating the importance of considering all relevant data.

      Hawkins, Neil; Scott, David A; Woods, Beth S; Thatcher, Nick; Oxford Outcomes Ltd., Oxford, UK. neil.hawkins@oxfordoutcomes.com (2009-09)
      OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate the importance of considering all relevant indirect data in a network meta-analysis of treatments for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). METHODS: A recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence appraisal focussed on the indirect comparison of docetaxel with erlotinib in second-line treatment of NSCLC based on trials including a common comparator. We compared the results of this analysis to a network meta-analysis including other trials that formed a network of evidence. We also examined the importance of allowing for the correlations between the estimated treatment effects that can arise when analysing such networks. RESULTS: The analysis of the restricted network including only trials of docetaxel and erlotinib linked via the common placebo comparator produced an estimated mean hazard ratio (HR) for erlotinib compared with docetaxel of 1.55 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.72-2.97). In contrast, the network meta-analysis produced an estimated HR for erlotinib compared with docetaxel of 0.83 (95% CI 0.65-1.06). Analyzing the wider network improved the precision of estimated treatment effects, altered their rankings and also allowed further treatments to be compared. Some of the estimated treatment effects from the wider network were highly correlated. CONCLUSIONS: This empirical example shows the importance of considering all potentially relevant data when comparing treatments. Care should therefore be taken to consider all relevant information, including correlations induced by the network of trial data, when comparing treatments.