Are Pharma sponsored trials biased?

A
  • Drug companies produce most of the evidence we (neurologists) use for supporting our decisions for using disease-modifying therapies (DMTs).
  • There is no doubt that these companies have a conflict of interest when they conduct trials.
  • Pharma companies need positive trials to license and sell their products; therefore they want positive trials.
  • Pharma sponsored trials are more likely to be positive than non-Pharma sponsored trials.

“What should we do about it? Are you concerned? I am!”

Ben Goldacre, the author of Bad Science, argues that there is good evidence that this conflict of interest results in bad evidence, which distorts medical decision making and may harm patients.

Goldacre. Is the conflict of interest unacceptable when drug companies conduct trials on their own drugs? Yes. BMJ. 2009 Nov 27;339:b4949. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b4949.

Noble. Drug firm conflicting interests. Radical change, not tweaking, is needed. BMJ. 2009 Dec 31;339:b5656. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b5656.

Additional reading: Bad Science

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

1 comment

  • Firstly, everybody, including patients, would like the trial to be successful. Secondly, the pharma company has so much riding on the trial.
    So there will certainly be some amount of 'bad evidence & distorted medical decisions'
    I can't think of any good remedy for this.

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