Studies funded by drug creators more likely to favour them

November 16th, 2007 - 4:23 pm ICT by admin  

London, Nov 16 (ANI): A new research has shown that though studies for blood pressure drugs today are less likely to be as biased as before, they still tend to have overly positive conclusions favouring the company which has created the drug.

The research, published on bmj.com, has therefore insisted researchers to call on editors and peer reviewers to examine the conclusions of studies to ensure that they contain an unbiased interpretation of the results.

Meta-analyses represent the highest level of research evidence in the hierarchy of study types. They pool data from multiple studies to provide summary statistics on the effectiveness of a given treatment. They have a great deal of influence on patient care and healthcare policy and drug companies have started to reference meta-analyses in their advertisements.

Prior studies have revealed that randomised controlled trials with financial ties to single drug companies are more likely to have results and conclusions that favour the sponsors products, and the new study has suggested that the same holds true for meta-analyses.

Therefore, researchers set out to determine whether financial ties with single drug companies are linked to favourable results or conclusions in meta-analyses on blood pressure lowering (antihypertensive) therapies.

For the study, a total of 124 meta-analyses were included, 49 (40 percent) of which had single drug company financial ties. Differences in study design and quality were measured.

It was found that meta-analyses with single drug company financial ties were not linked to favourable results but were significantly more likely to have favourable conclusions, even when differences in study quality were taken into account.

In fact, the data showed that studies funded by a single drug company have a 55 percent rate of favourable results that is transformed into a 92 percent rate for favourable conclusions, representing a 37 percent gap. The gap shrinks to 21 percent (57 percent to 79 percent) when two or more drug companies provide support. Yet the gap vanishes entirely for studies done by non-profit institutions alone or even in conjunction with drug companies.

The researchers said that these findings suggest a disconnect between the data that underlie the results and the interpretation or spin of these data that constitutes the conclusions.

They added that the findings also expose a failure of peer review and should act as a wake-up call to editors and peer reviewers, as well as to policy-makers, meta-analysts, and readers.
They concluded that all of these groups should closely examine the conclusions of meta-analyses to ensure that they contain an unbiased interpretation of results. (ANI)

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