Study: Funding affects drug effectiveness decisions

Here's a troubling statistic: a new study has found that when two drugs are tested in head-to-head clinical trials, researchers usually favor the drug developed by company funding the studies. The study, which appears this week in PLoS Medicine, looked at 192 trials comparing statin drugs to each other or to a non-statin. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that if a drugmaker was funding a test, researchers were about 20 times more likely to find results favoring the drug. The UC professors aren't suggesting that their fellow researchers are deliberately throwing results. Instead, they note that many of the trials lacked adequate "blinding," meaning that researchers knew which drugs the patients were taking--and that could easily have influenced them without their attempting to slant a given study.

To find out more about the study:
- read this United Press International item

ALSO: Pouring through public records on file in Minnesota, The New York Times found more than 100 cases of physicians who were paid by drug companies to test therapies after they had been sanctioned by the state medical board for a variety of offenses, including the reckless disregard of their patients' welfare. Report

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