Friday, June 24, 2005

An Australian Survey of Threats to Research Integrity

Another important article on threats to the integrity of clinical research has appeared in the Medical Journal of Australia. (Henry DA et al. Medical specialists and pharmaceutical industry-sponsored research: a survey of the Australian experience. Med J Aust 2005; 182: 557-560.)
The authors sent a survey to 5000 Australian specialists, excluding general practitioners, but also surgeons and anesthesologists, and obtained a 39% response rate. 388 specialists (41% of respondents) had done pharmaceutical industry sponsored research. Of these,
  • 100 (25.7% of those engaging in research) reported that the first draft of a research report was written by pharmaceutical company or contract research organization personnel
  • 55 (14.2%) reported a delay in presentation or publication of key study findings
  • 41 (10.6%) reported failure to publish key findings
  • 22 (5.7%) reported editing of the report to make the drug appear better than was justified by the study results
  • 18 (4.6%) reported concealment of relevant findings.
This study suggests that manipulation and suppression of research results in favor of commercial research sponsors' products is an international pheonomenon, and one that involves not only academic researchers but those in private practice.
An accompanying editorial (Gotzsche PC. Research integrity and pharmaceutical industry sponsorship. Med J Aust 2005; 182: 549-550) suggested that "testing drugs in patients" should be "a public enterprise." It asked, "who would buy a washing machine that is five or 10 times more expensive than other washing machines just because its manufacturer has compared it with other machines and claims that it is the best?"
Thanks to Sue Pelletier's Capsules blog for the tip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The response rate was what?