Research funded by drug companies is more likely to produce results that favour the sponsor’s product than research funded by other sources, claim researchers in this week’s BMJ.
They reviewed 30 studies that analysed research sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. Research funded by drug companies was less likely to be published than research funded by other sources. Studies sponsored by drug companies were also more likely to have outcomes favouring the sponsor than studies with other sponsors.
However, none of the 13 studies that analysed methods reported that studies funded by industry were of poorer quality.
These results apply across a wide range of diseases, drugs, and drug classes, over at least two decades and regardless of the type of research being assessed, say the authors. This suggests that there is some kind of systematic bias to the outcome of published research funded by the pharmaceutical industry.
Possible explanations include the selection of an inappropriate comparator to the product being investigated and publication bias, they conclude.
British Medical Journal (BMJ). May 2003.