Drug makers often hide bad tests results, study finds | National Union of Public and General Employees

Drug makers often hide bad tests results, study finds

'We cannot continually turn a blind eye to all this.' - David Moher of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Ottawa (29 Sept. 2009) - Major drug manufacturers are obscuring or hiding the results of drug trials in about half of the tests they conduct, say researchers in Ottawa, France and Britain.

Although anyone doing a clinical trial is supposed to announce publicly that the trial is under way, and describe the goals that have been set, many tests are taking place without any disclosure at all, says David Moher of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, who headed an international team that conducted the research.

“Selective outcome reporting (of trial results) is prevalent,” the study concludes.

“In all the journals we looked at, about 50 per cent (of trials) were adequately registered — meaning about half were not,” Moher told the Ottawa Citizen. “We cannot continually turn a blind eye to all this.”

His team found that medical journals, which publish the results of drug trials, are failing to insist that the trials be posted on an international public registry.

Moher says there are two common ways that "bias creep" occurs. One is to decide the study doesn’t show what a drug company wanted to show, and hide the whole thing. The other is to play up the good news in study findings while concealing the bad.

“This should not be allowed, and it goes on,” he said.

Following a 2004 scandal involving the anti-depressant drug Paxil, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors announced it would only publish clinical trials that had been announced on a public registry. The practice took off quickly. Moher calls this "a good start" but says too many scientists are still skipping this important step.

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