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Ties to Pharma Influences Clinical Trial Results

A study published in The BMJ shows that financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results; thereby questioning the bias in these objective trials. (Citation source: http://buff.ly/2jUnA3q)

Relationships with industry are common among investigators of randomised clinical trials (RCTs) - raising concerns about the effect that financial ties may have on the evidence base. But studies investigating these relationships have been conflicting.

US researchers studied this association by examining a random sample of 195 drug trials published in 2013.

They focused on trials that examined the effectiveness of drugs, because these studies have a high impact on both clinical practice and healthcare costs.

More than half (58%) of principal investigators had financial ties to the drug industry - of 397 principal investigators, 231 (58%) had financial ties, 156 (39%) reported advisor/consultancy payments, 81 (20%) reported speakers’ fees, 81 (20%) reported unspecified financial ties, 52 (13%) reported honorariums, 52 (13%) reported employee relationships, 52 (13%) reported travel fees, 41 (10%) reported stock ownership, and 20 (5%) reported having a patent related to the study drug.

 The results show that trials authored by principal investigators with financial ties to drug manufacturers were more likely than other trials to report favourable results. The prevalence of financial ties of principal investigators was 76% among positive studies and 49% among negative studies.

Thus the presence of a financial tie was associated with a greater than 3 fold odds of positive study outcome 

The authors point to possible mechanisms linking industry funding, financial ties, and trial results such as bias by selective outcome reporting, lack of publication, and inappropriate analyses.  They suggested that  trials with industry funding or authors with financial ties should be interpreted with caution until all relevant information is fully disclosed.

 

Disclosures: 
The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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