Review Suggests Bias in Drug Study Reporting

MONDAY, August 2 (HealthDay News) — Drug studies paid for by the pharmaceutical industry are more likely to publish favorable results than those funded by sources with no financial interest in the findings, a new review has found.

Children’s Hospital Boston researchers reviewed 546 drug trials that were conducted between 2000 and 2006 and listed with, a Web-based U.S. government registry of clinical trials. The studies included five types of drugs: cholesterol-lowering medicines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, proton-pump inhibitors, and vasodilators.

The drug industry-funded studies reported positive findings about the drug in question 85 percent of the time, compared with 50 percent for government-funded trials and 72 percent for those funded by nonprofit or nonfederal organizations, according to the report published in the Aug. 3 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers also found nonprofit/nonfederal trials that received drug-maker contributions were more likely to report positive findings than those with no links to the industry — 85 percent versus 61 percent.

Only 32 percent of industry-funded trials published results within two years of clinical trial completion, compared with 54 percent of government-funded studies and 56 percent of nonprofit/nonfederal trials, the authors of the review pointed out.

The researchers called for more public disclosure at the start of clinical trials in order to reduce the possibility of bias in their findings.

“While we cannot specifically point to which factors contribute to the association between funding source and positive result reporting, our findings speak to the need for more disclosure of all elements of a study,” team leader Dr. Florence Bourgeois, division of emergency medicine, said in a Children’s Hospital Boston news release.

“Publication bias is likely a contributing factor, but there may be many more, including biases in study design, patient selection, data analysis and results reporting,” she added.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about clinical trials.