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.
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.