A study published today shows that clinical trials with industry sponsorship report greater benefits and fewer harmful side effects. In the discussion, the authors note that most reviews and guidelines don’t report the funding sources for the included trials.
The systematic review adds to a growing body of evidence that industry sponsorship of research influences the results of that research. This new work is consistent with previous systematic reviews on the effects of industry sponsorship conducted over the past 20 years. The evidence is clear – industry can obtain results favourable to their products by influencing how trials are designed and reported.
And there are many stories about bad behaviour from Big Pharma. The drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu), which is used to relieve symptoms and reduce the complications of influenza, for instance, is stockpiled by governments around the world at the cost of billions of dollars. There’s currently an open data campaign to get Roche to share data from its clinical trials of the drug. It’s suspected that the data that have not been released may reveal both serious side effects and less-than-stellar effectiveness.