Studies' Funding Linked to Reporting of Adverse Effects

Pharmaceutical-funded studies less likely to find statistically significant adverse effects

TUESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Studies of inhaled corticosteroids that are funded by the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the drug are less likely to find statistically significant adverse effects than studies that derive their funding elsewhere, according to a report published in the Oct. 22 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Antonio Nieto, M.D., of the Children's Hospital La Fe in Valencia, Spain, analyzed data from 275 pharmaceutically funded (PF) studies and 229 other studies (NoPF) that reported on the presence or absence of adverse effects of inhaled corticosteroids, which have become widely used even for mild and moderate asthma.

The investigators found that the PF studies were significantly less likely to report statistically significant differences in adverse effects than NoPF studies (prevalence ratio 0.53), though this finding became non-significant after controlling for certain design features more common in PF studies. However, authors of PF articles were more likely to call a drug "safe" (prevalence ratio 3.68) when the study found a statistically significant increase in adverse effects than authors of NoPF studies.

"Funding by the industry is associated with design features less likely to lead to finding statistically significant adverse effects and with a more favorable clinical interpretation of such findings," the authors write. "Disclosure and conflicts of interest should be strengthened for a more balanced opinion on the safety of drugs."

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