Even doctors do not trust research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry!

Category: Blog

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article in its September 20, 2012 issue which examined how physicians interpreted data from research studies. What they found was that no matter how well the research was conducted, no matter how large the study, they found that “practicing internists understood and appreciated methodologic differences when they read abstracts describing hypothetical studies of new drugs. They discounted small, poorly designed trials and assigned greater validity to large trials that tested clinical end points. We also found that respondents downgraded the credibility of industry-funded trials, as compared with the same trials randomly characterized as having National Institutes of Health funding or having no source of support listed. The magnitude of this reduction in perceived methodologic rigor was about the same as that for low-rigor trials as compared with medium-rigor trials.

Physicians’ skepticism of industry-funded research affected their responses to high-rigor and low-rigor trials similarly.

Well-publicized controversies related to industry-funded research may help explain these findings. Reports have emerged of trials that withheld critical data or that presented positive results while withholding negative results. Other concerns stem from reports of industry-financed articles that were ghostwritten or published primarily as instruments of marketing. Physicians’ skepticism of industry-funded research may be a response to such trends.

Pharmaceutical companies seeking to enhance the appropriate use of important new products or to expand the appropriate uses of existing products must address the attitudes that our survey revealed, so that the credibility of the results of industry-supported trials is more likely to be based on methodologic rigor than on funding sources.”

1. Kesselheim AS, et al. A Randomized Study of How Physicians Interpret Research Funding Disclosures. N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1119-1127September 20, 2012