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Growing trend for trials of new cancer drugs to stop early, review shows

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39546.565694.DB (Published 10 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:793
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

    Growing numbers of clinical trials of new cancer drugs are being stopped prematurely because they are showing early benefit, a review of trials in the past 10 years has shown (Annals of Oncology 2008 Feb 29; doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdn042).

    The study’s authors fear that this could result in a systematic overstatement of the clinical benefits, which may affect decisions by drug regulatory bodies to authorise the drugs and by doctors in their management of patients.

    The review analysed 25 randomised controlled trials of new cancer drugs that were stopped early because interim analysis showed benefit, published between 1997 and 2007. It showed that this was a growing trend, with 56% of the studies being stopped early in the past three years (2005-7).

    More than three quarters (79%) of the studies …

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