[R] Use of R in clinical trials

Bill.Venables at csiro.au Bill.Venables at csiro.au
Thu Feb 18 09:13:05 CET 2010

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think Peter is being a bit harsh on SAS.  

I prefer Greg Snow's analogy (in the fortune collection): If SPSS (or SAS) and R were vehicles, SPSS would be the bus, going on fixed routes and efficiently carrying lots of people to standard places, whereas R is the off-road 4WD SUV, complete with all sorts of kit including walking boots, kayak on the top, &c.  R will take you anywhere you want to go, but it might take you longer to master it than the simple recipes for data analysis typical of the 'bus' programs.

Bill Venables
CSIRO/CMIS Cleveland Laboratories

-----Original Message-----
From: r-help-bounces at r-project.org [mailto:r-help-bounces at r-project.org] On Behalf Of Peter Dalgaard
Sent: Thursday, 18 February 2010 5:55 PM
To: Frank E Harrell Jr
Cc: r-help at r-project.org; Cody Hamilton
Subject: Re: [R] Use of R in clinical trials

Frank E Harrell Jr wrote:
> Cody,
> How amazing that SAS is still used to produce reports that reviewers 
> hate and that requires tedious low-level programming.  R + LaTeX has it 
> all over that approach IMHO.  We have used that combination very 
> successfully for several data and safety monitoring reporting tasks for 
> clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry.
> Frank

There is a point to it, though. One of my friends and colleagues in the 
business put it in one word: Mediocrity.

SAS does a mediocre job at analysing and reporting and data handling 
using a mediocre control language. But: It can be handled by mediocre 
programmers writing and modifying mediocre programs, and those people 
are more available and replaceable, maybe even cheaper. R/LaTeX may run 
circles around SAS in terms of capapilities, flexibility, and elegance, 
but it can also send a programmer who doesn't have the required skill 
set running around in circles.


> Cody Hamilton wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> There have been a variety of discussions on the R list regarding the 
>> use of R in clinical trials. The following post from the STATA list 
>> provides an interesting opinion regarding why SAS remains so popular 
>> in this arena: 
>> http://www.stata.com/statalist/archive/2008-01/msg00098.html
>> Regards,
>> -Cody Hamilton

    O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Øster Farimagsgade 5, Entr.B
   c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     PO Box 2099, 1014 Cph. K
  (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph:  (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)              FAX: (+45) 35327907

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