It appears the outcome of clinical trials by Big Pharma may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or is that “profits-see”?
When clinical trials for new drugs are published, they have a tendency to show positive results; some critics say, too positive. Questions of bias have been raised repeatedly, particularly in trials with drug-company funding. A new study, appearing Monday in the online version of Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, analyzes 140 trials of breast-cancer drugs. The bottom line? In 2003, a whopping 84 percent of trials with pharmaceutical-company involvement showed positive results, compared to just 54 percent for trials without industry backing. The study was led by Dr. Jeffrey Peppercorn, assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, along with three researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Drug companies have billions of dollars invested in the outcome of clinical trials; they don’t want to see any negative results produced. Is it really that big of a surprise that the results of a trial lean toward the party with the most riding on the outcome?