[R] Dose of Reality re: SAS vs R

Berton Gunter gunter.berton at gene.com
Mon Dec 20 19:38:12 CET 2004

R folks:

I appreciate and have learned from the recent "SAS vs R" and "Bad Excel
Calculations" threads. Not only civil, but even at times erudite,
discussion. So I apologize for the lateness of this remark and hope it isn't
redundant or trivial.

To those who may wonder why SAS is so dominant in the clinical arena despite
(better) alternatives: INERTIA. That is:

1) There is a huge infrastructure of SAS code already in place for
regulatory submissions and SAS programmers to maintain and enlarge it. As a
practical matter, it is hard to imagine a large organization simply chucking
this and starting afresh. Clearly, change -- if were to occur at all --
would have to be slow and incremental.

2) From my experience at presentations of recent biostatistics PhD's, for
most, their education continues to promulgate the use of SAS in
clinical/regulatory settings, undoubtedly due to 1).

3) As has already been noted, most existing FDA regulators -- statisticians
and clinicians alike -- are familiar with SAS, and therefore submissions
with other software (like R) might delay or complicate the review process.
We statisticians are not the biggest dogs in this arena, after all.

Reality bites! So R users must persevere.

-- Bert Gunter

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