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Number needed to treat
The number needed to treat (NNT) is an epidemiological measure that indicates how many patients would require treatment with a form of medication to reduce the expected number of cases of a defined endpoint by one. It is defined as the inverse of the absolute risk reduction. It was described in 1988.
For example, consider a hypothetical drug which reduces the risk of colon cancer by 50%. Even without the drug, colon cancer is fairly rare, maybe 1 in 3,000 in every 5 year period. The NNT for a 5-year treatment with the drug is therefore 6,000: by treating 6,000 people with the drug, one can expect to reduce the number of colon cancer cases from 2 to 1.
In general, NNT is always computed with respect to two treatments A and B, with A typically a drug and B a placebo (in our example above, A is a 5-year treatment with the hypothetical drug, and B is no treatment). A defined endpoint has to be specified (in our example: the appearance of colon cancer in the 5 year period). If the probabilities pA and pB of this endpoint under treatments A and B, respectively, are known, then the NNT is computed as 1/(pB-pA).
The NNT is an important measure in pharmacoeconomics. If a clinical endpoint is devastating enough (e.g. death, heart attack), drugs with a high NNT may still be indicated in particular situations. If the endpoint is minor, health insurers may decline to reimburse drugs with a high NNT.
Additional recommended knowledge
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Number_needed_to_treat". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|