Huge medical trials are vital to testing novel drugs and oth
In the world of clinical trials where data rules with near-total power, there is a constant drumbeat that sounds like “more data … more data … more data.” This increasingly loud and rapid pounding has led many people to believe the only way to determine if a new drug or treatment has any value is to rely on the results of large clinical trials.
However, in any experiment, including clinical trials, a delicate balance exists between the magnitude of the effect of the intervention and the number of observations you need to detect a difference between that intervention and a suitable control condition. The equation is pretty clear—the larger the effect, the fewer number of patients you will need to enroll into a clinical trial (or the less time will be needed to detect an effect)....