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Clinical Trials Funded by Pharmaceutical Industry more likely to Report Positive Results

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August 2, 2010

A study of clinical drug trials found that those funded by the pharmaceutical industry were more likely to report positive outcomes than were trials funded by other sources.

Researchers examined 546 clinical drug trials conducted between 2000 and 2006 listed in the registry at www.ClinicalTrials.gov. Their analysis showed that industry funded trials reported a favorable outcome 85% of the time, compared to 50% favorable outcomes for government-funded trials and 72% favorable outcomes for trials funded by nonprofits or non-federal organizations.

Of nonprofits and non-federal studies, nearly half were the recipients of drug industry contributions and reported positive outcomes 85% of the time, while those without any such contributions reported favorable results only 61% of the time.

"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," said Florence Bourgeois, MD, MPH, of Children’s Hospital Boston in a 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."

The clinical trial review entitled “Outcome Reporting among Drug Trials Registered in ClinicalTrials.gov” by Florence T. Bourgeois, MD, MPH; Srinivas Murthy, MD; and Kenneth D. Mandl, MD, MPH appears in the August 3, 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers also found that drug trials funded by pharmaceutical industry were less likely to be published within 2 years of study completion.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and National Library of Medicine funded the study.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses results of clinical drug trials in the approval process and regulation of drugs.