Table of Contents
ISRN Addiction
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 927290, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Pharmacodynamics Must Inform Statistics: An Example from a Cocaine Dependence Pharmacotherapy Trial

1Addiction Sciences Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, 3131 Harvey Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA
2Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VISN 10), 3200 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220, USA
3Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Cincinnati, 2693 Campus Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
4Division of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA

Received 21 November 2013; Accepted 22 December 2013; Published 5 February 2014

Academic Editors: A. M. Barr, J. Krejci, and C. L. Paul

Copyright © 2014 Theresa M. Winhusen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. There is no FDA-approved medication for cocaine dependence or consensus on the statistical approach for analyzing data from cocaine dependence pharmacotherapy trials. The goal of this paper is to illustrate the importance of understanding medication’s pharmacodynamics when specifying the statistical model to test its efficacy. Method. Data from a double-blind placebo controlled trial of reserpine for cocaine dependence are analyzed. Since the antihypertensive properties of reserpine are well established, blood pressure data are utilized to evaluate the ability of two statistical models, one that does not take the pharmacodynamics of reserpine into account and one that does, to detect reserpine’s antihypertensive effect. Results. The statistical model specified without regard to reserpine’s pharmacodynamics failed to find a significant medication effect for either systolic () or diastolic () blood pressure. Contrariwise, the model based on the pharmacodynamics of reserpine found a significant effect for both systolic () and diastolic () blood pressure. Conclusions. If the pharmacodynamics of a study medication are not considered when specifying statistical models, then erroneous conclusions may be reached. This trial is registered with NCT00033033.