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BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 11 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4339

Is industry skewing trial evidence in its favour?

The results of trials registered on differ according to the funding source. When industry is the sole sponsor, 85% of trials find that the tested drug has a greater effect on the primary outcome than the comparator drug. This figure is only 50% for trials sponsored by the government and about 70% for trials funded by non-profit or non-federal organisations. When this last group is analysed according to whether or not industry co-funded the study, 85% of trials with industry co-funding favour the study drug versus 61% of trials with no industry funding.

Trials sponsored by industry are also more likely to be in advanced stages of drug development (phase III and phase IV trials), to use an active comparator rather than placebo, to be multicentre, and to include more participants (median size 306, compared with 78 and 50 for government and non-profit funding, respectively). The study analysed trials of anticholesteraemics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, proton pump inhibitors, and vasodilators that started after 2000 and were completed by 2006. The results of two thirds of the trials were published in the next two years, but this ranged from 32% for industry funded trials to 56% for trials funded by non-profit sources without industry involvement.

In 2005, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) announced that only trials registered before recruitment would be eligible for publication in member journals. Before this recommendation, 7.3% of trials followed this policy; the figure was 50% after the recommendation.

Strong relationships improve survival as much as quitting smoking

Having strong social relationships seems to have an effect on survival comparable to that of quitting smoking and larger than controlling traditional risk factors, such as obesity or hypertension. A meta-analysis of social relationships and mortality looked at 308 849 participants aged 63.9, on average, at baseline; 29% died during the follow-up of 7.5 years …

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