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Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and 
research outcome and quality: 
systematic review 

British Medical Journal 31may03

Joel Lexchin, associate professor1, Lisa A Bero, professor2, Benjamin Djulbegovic, associate professor3, Otavio Clark, chief of clinical oncology section4

1 School of Health Policy and Management, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3, 
2 Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA,
3 Interdisciplinary Oncology Program, H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA, 
4 Instituto do Radium de Campinas, 13075-460 Campinas-SP, Brazil

Correspondence to: J Lexchin joel.lexchin@utoronto.ca 

Abstract

Objective

To investigate whether funding of drug studies by the pharmaceutical industry is associated with outcomes that are favourable to the funder and whether the methods of trials funded by pharmaceutical companies differ from the methods in trials with other sources of support.

Methods

Medline (January 1966 to December 2002) and Embase (January 1980 to December 2002) searches were supplemented with material identified in the references and in the authors' personal files. Data were independently abstracted by three of the authors and disagreements were resolved by consensus.

Results

30 studies were included. Research funded by drug companies was less likely to be published than research funded by other sources. Studies sponsored by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to have outcomes favouring the sponsor than were studies with other sponsors (odds ratio 4.05; 95% confidence interval 2.98 to 5.51; 18 comparisons). None of the 13 studies that analysed methods reported that studies funded by industry was of poorer quality.

Conclusion

Systematic bias favours products which are made by the company funding the research. Explanations include the selection of an inappropriate comparator to the product being investigated and publication bias.


Introduction

Clinical research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry affects how doctors practise medicine.1 An increasing number of clinical trials at all stages in a product's life cycle are funded by the pharmaceutical industry,2 3 probably reflecting the fact that the pharmaceutical industry now spends more on medical research than do the National Institutes of Health in the United States.4 Most pharmacoeconomic studies are either done in-house by the drug companies or externally by consultants who are paid for by the company.5 6

Results that are unfavourable to the sponsor—that is, trials that find a drug is less clinically effective or cost effective or less safe than other drugs used to treat the same condition—can pose considerable financial risks to companies. Pressure to show that the drug causes a favourable outcome may result in biases in design, outcome, and reporting of industry sponsored research.7

A recent systematic review of the impact of financial conflicts on biomedical research found that studies financed by industry, although as rigorous as other studies, always found outcomes favourable to the sponsoring company.8 However, this review looked for papers published only in English, excluded reports in letters and abstracts, and looked at studies funded by other industries. We reviewed the relation between the source of funding of the research and the reported outcomes and investigated whether quality of the methods in studies funded by pharmaceutical companies differs from that in other studies.

Methods

Study selection

We included only studies that specifically stated that they analysed research sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, compared methodological quality or outcomes with studies with other sources of funding, and reported the results in quantitative terms. Outcomes of interest were conclusions about differences in drug effectiveness, adverse effects, cost outcomes, or publication status between industry funded trials and other trials. Work published in any language was eligible for inclusion.

Some studies analysed both pharmacological and non-pharmacological trials and combined research funded by drug companies and other industries into one group. In these cases, if most were non-pharmaceutical trials and were funded by other industries they were excluded.

Search strategy

We searched Medline from January 1966 to December 2002 using a combination of terms as both MESH subject headings (exploded) and key words ("clinical trials," "conflict of interest," "drug industry," "financial support," "publication bias" (subject heading only), "research design," and "research support.") We searched Embase from January 1980 to December 2002 using a combination of terms as subject headings (exploded) and key words ("clinical trials" (subject heading only), "drug industry," "ethics," "financial management," "methodology," and "ethics." To find more studies, we scanned the reference lists from each of the articles and searched the Cochrane methodology register. We placed messages on two email drug discussion groups, contacted content experts, and searched our personal libraries. In cases where the reported results were incomplete, we contacted the lead author and asked for further details. A single author (JL) did the initial selection of studies and sent copies of each of these studies to the other three authors for validation of the inclusion criteria.

Data collection

From each study, we extracted the study design, type of research assessed in the study, design of research assessed in the study, search strategy used to locate research, time period covered, drug or drug class, disease, number of industry and non-industry funded articles analysed in each study, how industry funding was defined, criteria used to assess methodological quality of the research, results with respect to methodological quality or outcome of the research, and primary purpose of study.

We provide a critical description of each included study, but do not assess methodological quality (see table 1). Since our included studies had a variety of designs—that is, cohort collections of trials, meta-analyses, and economic studies—and since we included letters and abstracts with limited descriptions of methods, we had no valid and reliable quality assessment instrument available for assessing their methodological quality. We did not use a component approach to assess their quality since this approach applies to randomised controlled trials.9 10

Table 1 General characteristics of studies [Below]

Three of us (LB, OC, JL), who were not blinded to study authors or results, independently abstracted information. We resolved disagreements by consensus.

On the basis of the rationale that funding does affect the direction of effect, we did a meta-analysis on the studies that reported the effects of funding on the outcome of either pharmacoeconomic analyses or clinical trials in cases where odds ratios could be computed. The homogeneity test showed that the effect size did not differ between the studies (P=0.17). Using a Mantel-Haenszel test, we constructed a pooled odds ratio.11 We used the program StatsDirect and considered P < 0.05 significant.

Results

Search results

The combined searches and other data sources found 3351 potential titles. We scanned titles and abstracts (where available) for mention of the pharmaceutical industry in either the title or the abstract or any suggestion that the study would deal with industry funding. We read 103 articles in full (eight in languages other than English); we retained 30 articles for analysis. Reasons for exclusion are detailed in the QUOROM statement (fig 1).

Fig 1 QUOROM statement

Potentially relevant articles
identified and screened for
retrieval (n=3351)

Articles excluded:
No mention of industry or funding
source (n=3248)

Articles retrieved for more 
detailed evaluation (n=103)

Articles excluded:
Did not examine outcomes or
methodology (n=40)
Did not report quantitative results (n=12)
Did not directly compare company
and non-company sponsored
research (n=11)
Combined pharmaceutical and non
pharmaceutical trials (n=5)
Did not directly state that trials were
funded by industry (n=3)
Did not report quantitative results (n=2)

Articles included in 
systematic review (n=30)

The studies by Friedberg et al23 and by Knox et al29 analysed the same set of 44 trials but looked at different aspects of the trials: conclusions about the usefulness of products in one case,23 and how the trials had been reported in the other.29 Only one article was duplicated in the two studies reported by the group including Chard, Tallon, and Dieppe13 18 (J Chard, personal communication, 2002). Seven of the nine articles in Kemmeren's27 meta-analysis of third generation oral contraceptives were also included in Vandenbroucke's meta-analysis.39 We found no other cases of double counting, but as some of the papers did not provide a full list of references we could not exclude the possibility of further overlap.

Characteristics of included studies

Table 1 gives the characteristics of the 30 studies included in this analysis.12–41 Six were reviews of pharmacoeconomic reports,12 23 26 29 34 36 two reviewed meta-analyses and systematic reviews,18 25 and the remaining 22 analysed groups of clinical trials.13–17 19–22 24 27 28 30–33 35 37–41 Eleven papers mentioned that some trials were funded by industry but offered 22 further definition of industry funding.17 18 22 24–26 28 34 36 39 40 In the other 15 papers the definition varied from a statement acknowledging industry funding in the article12 32 to a more comprehensive definition.35

Relationship between source of funding and outcome

A total of 26 of the 30 studies reported results on the association of the outcome of the research and the source of funding: six examined the effects on publication,17 21 24 31 33 37 five looked at the outcome of pharmacoeconomic studies,12 23 26 34 36 and 16 analysed the outcome of clinical trials and meta-analyses of clinical trials (table 2).13–16 18–20 22 24 27 30 32 38–41

Table 2 Relation between source of funding and outcome of research [Below]

Funding source and publication status

Research funded by drug companies was less likely to be published or presented than research funded by other sources (table 2). 17 21 Three studies looked at time to publication,24 31 37 and two of these found that company sponsored research took longer to be published than research with other sources of funding.24 31 Research funded by drug companies was also more likely to be published in the proceedings of symposiums than non-industry sponsored research.33

Funding source and economic outcomes Pharmacoeconomic studies sponsored by the drug industry were more likely to report results favouring the sponsor's product than studies with other sources of funding in all five articles that examined this question.12 23 26 34 36 In three cases, however, the bias in favour of industry funded research depended on the particular question being posed23 26 or on where the pharmacoeconomic analyses were published.36

Funding source and outcomes of clinical trials and meta-analyses Sixteen studies investigated the relationship between funding source and the outcomes of clinical trials and meta-analyses. Of these, 13 found that clinical trials and meta-analyses sponsored by drug companies favoured the product produced by the funder. Statistical significance for this finding was reported in eight of the 13 studies,13 14 16 19 20 38 40 41 and in another two there was a trend towards statistical significance.18 22 These studies covered a wide range of diseases, such as osteoarthritis of the knee,13 18 multiple myeloma,20 various psychiatric problems,32 40 Alzheimer's disease,30 and venous thromboembolism,39 and a wide range of drugs, such as tacrine,30 clozapine,40 third generation oral contraceptives,39 erythropoietin,19 antidepressants,22 and topical glucocorticosteroids.38 One study that found no difference looked at the outcome of trials of treatment for HIV and associated complications and in this case the trials were monitored by the National Institutes of Health.24 In one meta-analysis of third generation oral contraceptives,27 the risk of venous thromboembolism for non-industry funded research was higher than that for industry sponsored trials, although the increased risk for thromboembolic disease was significant in both cases. Another study found no difference in outcomes in research published in five leading medical journals.15

Figure 2 shows the individual odds ratios and summary odds ratio for 18 different comparisons (15 studies) of the outcomes of industry funded and non-industry funded studies—seven from pharmacoeconomic analyses and 11 from clinical trials or meta-analyses of clinical trials. The summary odds ratio was 4.05 (95% confidence interval 2.98 to 5.51).

Fig 2 Source of funding and outcome in pharmacoeconomic analyses, clinical trials, and meta-analyses of clinical trials of drug treatments; for references see bmj.com (*Favourable qualitative results; Overstatement of quantitative results; Reporting possibility of cost effectiveness or cost savings of prophylaxis in entire high risk infant population either in point estimates or sensitivity analysis; Reporting cost effectiveness or cost savings in either entire high risk populations or specific infant subgroups compared across studies; ¶Analyses reported in general medical journals; **Analyses reported in Pharmacoeconomics)

Relationship between source of funding and methodologic quality A total of 13 studies examined the relationship between the source of funding and the methodological quality of the research (table 3).14–16 19 20 25 28 29 31–35 None of the 13 reported that industry funded studies had poorer methodological quality. Of the nine that provided statistical analyses, four found that drug company sponsored research had better quality scores.14 28 31 33

Table 3 Relation between source of funding and methodological quality of research [Below]

Nine of the studies on clinical trials used well established methods of assessing quality.14 15 19 20 24 28 29 31 35 The single study that reported on the methods of pharmacoeconomic analyses used commonly accepted criteria for assessing cost effectiveness.34

One study evaluated the appropriateness of the comparators in clinical trials and found that a greater proportion of industry sponsored studies compared innovative treatment to either placebo or no therapy than did studies sponsored by public resources (60% v 21%; P < 0.001).20

Discussion

Research sponsored by the drug industry was more likely to produce results favouring the product made by the company sponsoring the research than studies funded by other sources. The results apply across a wide range of disease states, drugs, and drug classes, over at least two decades and regardless of the type of research being assessed—pharmacoeconomic studies, clinical trials, or meta-analyses of clinical trials. The totality of the evidence reported in our meta-analysis of a subset of homogeneous studies suggests that there is some kind of systematic bias to the outcome of published research funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

Our results confirm and extend those reported by Bekelman et al.8 They identified only five studies that compared outcomes in research funded by pharmaceutical companies and other sources,14 16 20 23 41 and our study adds another 16 studies12 13 15 18 19 22 24 26 27 30 32 34 36 38–40 Our results are also supported by Rochon and coworkers43 (we excluded this paper because all of the trials were sponsored by drug companies and were, therefore, not comparible with trials lacking company funding.) They found that trials supported by manufacturers of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents almost always reported that the sponsor's drug was as or more effective and less toxic than the comparison drug.

Explanations

At least four possible explanations exist for favourable results seen in industry sponsored research. Firstly, pharmaceutical companies may selectively fund trials on drugs that they consider to be superior to the competition. Data collected so far, however, indicate that researchers cannot predict results of trials in advance.44

Secondly, positive results could be the consequence of poor quality research conducted by industry. For example, low quality trials exaggerate the benefits of treatment by an average of 34%.45 46 We found that the research methods of trials sponsored by drug companies is at least as good as that of non-industry funded research and in many cases better. This does not guarantee the absence of bias in studies sponsored by the industry since outcome could be influenced by factors left out of quality scores, such as the question asked or the conduct or reporting of the study.7 47

Thirdly, selecting an appropriate comparator is a key issue in planning a clinical trial.7 20 44 In the study by Rochon et al, in most cases in which the doses of the study and comparator drugs were not equivalent, the drug given at the higher dose was that of the supporting manufacturer.43 As the authors saw, higher doses may bias the results in favour of effectiveness of the manufacturer's product. Safer also reports that in trials of psychiatric drugs the comparator drug is often given in doses outside the usual range or there is a rapid and substantial dose increase in the drug not manufactured by the sponsoring company.48 In another instance, research funded by the company marketing fluconazole compared it with oral amphotericin B, a drug known to be poorly absorbed, thereby creating a bias in favour of fluconazole.49 We did not consider who is finally responsible for the selection of the comparator—investigators, regulatory agencies, or sponsors.

Finally, our results suggest that publication bias may explain our finding of bias in favour of outcomes of research funded by industry. Although research sponsored by industry was less likely to be published than research with other sources of funding, the two studies with this finding did not specifically examine whether non-publication applied just to research with non-significant outcomes.17 21 In the past few years, manufacturers have attempted to prevent studies which are unfavourable to their products from being published in several high profile cases.50–52

Massie and colleagues raise another possible source of publication bias.33 They showed that research funded by industry appears more often in symposiums. Studies in symposiums are known to lack peer review and to favour the sponsor's product.14 53 Although the methods of industry funded trials are at least equal to those in studies funded by other sources, the absence of peer review may result in an overly favourable interpretation of the results of a trial. Rochon and colleagues noted that claims of superiority for the sponsor's product were often not supported by the data.43

Limitations

Our study has several limitations, primarily the difficulty in locating research examining the effects of company sponsorship. Our Medline and Embase searches found only 13 of the papers that we included,16–18 20 23 27–30 32 38 40 41 and the remaining 17 came from a search of the authors' personal files, suggestions by outside experts, or scanning of reference lists.12–15 19 21 22 24–26 31 33–37 39 The inability to critically evaluate the methodology in the abstracts and journal letters is another possible source of bias, and the conclusions of two of the letters that we included30 40 have been criticised.54 55

Methods in studies sponsored by industry were at least as good as in studies with other sources of funding. Conclusions about overall quality can be influenced by the instrument used,9 and some of the scales may have missed important criteria.

What is already known on this topic

When a pharmaceutical company funds research into drugs, studies are 
likely to produce results favourable to the sponsoring company's product

What this study adds

Research funded by drug companies was more likely to have outcomes 
that favour the sponsor's product than research funded by other sources

This cannot be explained by the reported quality of the methods in research 
sponsored by industry

The result may be due to inappropriate comparators or to publication bias

Research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry is facing a number of challenges. Questions have been raised about the mismatch between the research agendas of the pharmaceutical industry and consumers of research.56 Meta-analysts are confronted with the problems of duplicate publication of data from company funded trials and the withholding of data.49 57 58

Leading medical journals recently decided to establish more rigorous criteria for the acceptance of research sponsored by industry; this is a step in the right direction towards increasing the credibility of studies paid for by drug companies.58 The revised CONSORT statement should also help improve the quality of clinical research.59 60 In addition, authors and editors should consider including a statement concerning prior beliefs of the investigators about the uncertainty of the treatments that are reported. Finally, all clinical trials should be registered prospectively as the only way to prevent publication bias.61 The proposal to do so which was put forward in 198662 has been periodically renewed,63–65 but to this date has not been implemented.


We thank Jiri Chard, David Liebeskind, Paula Rochon, and José Sacristan for additional information and data about their studies.

Contributors: JL conceived and planned the study, did the Medline search, extracted the data, and wrote the paper. LAB planned the study, extracted the data, and wrote the paper. BD planned the study, checked the data extraction process, and wrote the paper. OC extracted the data and wrote the paper. JL is guarantor.

Funding: No additional funding.

Competing interests: BD has been funded by several pharmaceutical companies to perform research and has received speaking honorariums.

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Table 1 General characteristics of studies

Study (first author) 
 Type of publication 
 Research assessed 
 Design of research 
 Search strategy used to find research 
 Time covered 
 Number of separate trials funded by industry 
 Number of separate trials not funded by industry 
 How was industry funding defined 


Azimi et al12 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Pharmacoeconomic studies 
 Cost effectiveness 
 Abridged Index Medicus 
 1 January 1990 to 30 June 1996 
 10 
 34 
 Explicit acknowledgment of support from private industry in article 
 
Chard et al13 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Prospective experimental, retrospective or prospective cohort studies, general disease reviews/specific intervention reviews, studies reporting pooled data 
 BIDS Institute for Scientific Information, Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline 
 1950 to March 1998 
 114 with pharmaceutical sponsorship out of 128 with commercial sponsorship 
 802 
 Source of funding declared in published article 
 
Cho et al14 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Experimental (randomised and non-randomised), observational 
 Computer generated list of random numbers from 625 symposiums, symposiums' articles matched to article from parent journal 
 Not stated 
 For quality score 50; for outcome 40 
 For quality score 77; for outcome: 112 
 Article acknowledged drug company providing funding or drugs or any authors employed by drug company 
 
Clifford et al15 
 Journal article, review 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 Manual search for randomised trials in 5 general medical journals (convenience sample of 100 trials; 20/journal) 
 January 1999 to October 2000 
 44 by company only; 22 by company and at least 1 not for profit source 
 28 
 Acknowledged grant support; drug company employee listed as author; drug supplied by company; other types of company support 
 
Davidson16 
 Journal article, review 
 Clinical trials 
 Concurrent or crossover control group, before and after 
 Search of 5 major general medicine journals 
 1984 
 37 
 70 
 Acknowledgments stated support from company (excluding supply of drug or placebo) or any authors worked for company 

Dickersin et al17 
 Journal article, cohort study 
 Clinical trials 
 Observational, clinical trial, other 
 Manual search Institutional Review Board logs for studies receiving approval at one university 
 Studies approved in 1980 or before 1980 and still ongoing 
 42 
 472 
 Not stated 
 
Dieppe et al18 
 Journal letter, review 
 Meta-analyses 
 Meta-analysis 
 Search for meta-analyses in 8 high-impact journals 
 1993 to 1997 
 18 
 117 
 Not stated 
 
Djulbegovic et al*19 
 Abstract, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 From list of trials maintained by American Society of Hematology 
 1980 to 2000 
 23 
 7 
 Source of funding obtained from paper or investigator; association with manufacturer if drug supplied or grant support 
 
Djulbegovic et al*20 
 Journal article 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 Cochrane search strategy 
 1996 to 1998 
 35 
 101 
 Source of funding obtained from paper or investigator; association with manufacturer if drug supplied or grant support 
 
Easterbrook et al21 
 Journal article, retrospective cohort study 
 Clinical trials 
 Observational, experimental (clinical and non-clinical) 
 Manual search ethics committee records at 1 university 
 1 January 1984 to 31 December 1987 
 108 
 177 
 Direct contact with investigator or co-investigator 
 
Freemantle et al22 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 Embase, Medline, reviewed reference lists, contacted authors 
 1982 to 1997 
 Not stated 
 Not stated (total 105 trials) 
 Not stated 
 
Freidberg et al23 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Pharmacoeconomic studies 
 Cost minimisation, cost identification, cost effectiveness 
 HealthStar, Medline 
 1988 to 1998 
 20 
 24 
 Statement in article or by contacting investigator if no statement 
 
Ioannidis24 
 Journal article, retrospective cohort study 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised 
 Trials conducted under auspices of two AIDS trial groups 
 1986 to 1996 
 11 
 98 
 Not stated 
 
Jadad et al25 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Systematic reviews, meta-analyses 
 Systematic review, meta-analysis 
 CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, HealthStar, Medline, personal collections, reference lists 
 1988 to 1998 
 6 
 44 
 Not stated 
 
Kamal-Bahl et al26 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Pharmacoeconomic studies 
 Cost effectiveness, cost benefit, incremental cost analysis 
 HealthStar, Medline, contacted experts, reference lists, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database, National Institute for Clinical Excellence, Canadian Coordinating Office of Health Technology Assessment 
 1 January 1990 to 31 August 2001 
 4 
 8 
 Not stated 
 
Kemmeren et al27 
 Journal article, meta-analysis 
 Clinical trials 
 Cohort, case-control 
 Medline, contacted experts, reference lists 
 October 1995 to December 2000 
 4 
 5 
 Industry funding explicitly stated in acknowledgement 
 
Kjaergard et al28 
 Journal article, retrospective cohort study 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled and quasi-randomised controlled 
 Handsearch of Hepatology, Medline 
 January 1981 to August 1998 
 Not stated 
 Not stated (total 235) 
 Not stated 
 
Knox et al29 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Pharmacoeconomic studies 
 Cost minimisation, cost identification, cost effectiveness 
 HealthStar, Medline 
 1988 to 1998 
 20 
 24 
 Statement in article or by contacting investigator if no statement 
 
Koepp et al30 
 Journal letter, comment on meta-analysis 
 Clinical trials 
 Not stated 
 Studies were reported in previously published meta-analysis 
 Not stated 
 8 
 5 
 Authors employed by manufacturer, received grants, held stocks or options, in-house research of methodological or statistical analysis provided by manufacturer 
 
Liebeskind et al*31 
 Abstract, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 Medline search, international trial registries 
 1957 to 1997 
 Not stated 
 Not stated (total 127) 
 Not stated but review discriminated between corporate sponsorship and corporate provision of drug 
 
Mandelkern32 
 Journal letter, review 
 Clinical trials 
 Not stated 
 Manual review of one year of regular issues of Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 
 1997 
 16 
 16 
 Stated at front of article 
 
Massie et al33 
 Journal letter, review 
 Clinical trials 
 Not stated 
 Articles published over 3 year period in 8 major journals 
 1980 to 1982 
 59 
 23 
 From article and by direct contact with authors 

Neuman et al34 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Pharmacoeconomic studies 
 Cost effectiveness 
 Medline, HealthStar, CancerLit 
 1975 to 1997 
 cost effectiveness 77; quality 32 
 cost effectiveness 538; quality 118 
 Not stated 
 
Rochon et al*35 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 Medline search of 3 journals 
 January 1990 to November 1992 
 142 by company only; 25 both company and government/foundation 
 16 government/foundation; 59 no source 
 Acknowledged grant support; drug company employee listed as author; drug supplied by company; other types of company support 

Sacristan et al*36 
 Journal letter, review 
 Pharmacoeconomic studies 
 Cost effectiveness 
 Medline search in 6 general medical journals; hand search of Pharmacoeconomics 
 Medline: 1988 to 1994; Pharmacoeconomics 1993 to 1994 
 General medical journals 6; Pharmacoeconomics 18 
 General medical journals 63; Pharmacoecomonics 6 
 Not stated 
 
Stern et al*37 
 Journal article, retrospective cohort study 
 clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled, concurrent and historical controlled, uncontrolled 
 Search ethics committee submissions at 1 hospital 
 September 1979 to December 1988 
 Not stated 
 Not stated 
 Stated in submission to ethics committee 
 
Thomas et al38 
 Journal letter, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Original research 
 Medline 
 1966 to 2001 
 48 (30 by company A; 18 by company B) 
 22 
 Funded by company; author was company employee; correspondence address used company address; statistical analysis done by company 
 
Vandenbroucke et al39 
 Journal letter, review 
 Clinical trials 
 Not stated 
 Not stated 
 Not stated 
 4 
 9 
 Not stated 
 
Wahlbeck et al40 
 Journal letter, comment on systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Not stated 
 Cochrane search strategy 
 Not stated 
 16 
 13 
 Not stated 
 
Yaphe et al41 
 Journal article, systematic review 
 Clinical trials 
 Randomised controlled 
 Hand search of 5 major medical journals 
 8 October 1992 to 1 October 1994 
 209 
 96 
 Funded by company; provision of study materials by company; author was company employee; statistical analysis done by company 


* Additional data from author.

 Additional data from Freidberg et al.23

 Additional data from Massie et al.42

 For cost effectiveness: number of ratios (studies contained more than one ratio; 70 ratios from pharmaceutical company funded studies and 7 from device company funded studies); for quality: number of studies.

Table 2 Relation between source of funding and outcome of research

Author 
 Outcome question assessed by research 
 Results 

Funding source and publication status 

Dickersin et al17 
 Factors associated with publication of findings from clinical trials 
 Publication rate at one of two centres was considerably higher for studies funded by National Institutes of Health 
	than for studies funded by drug industry (90.5% v 65.0%), but no indication that there was any difference in 
	the tendency to publish significant results 

Easterbrook et al21 
 Are clinical trials with statistically significant results more likely to be published and what is the magnitude of 
	this bias 
 Drug company sponsored trials of any type are significantly less likely to be published or presented compared to 
	unfunded studies (OR=0.36; 95% CI 0.16 to 0.81); drug company sponsored clinical trials are significantly 
	less likely to be published or presented compared to unfunded studies (0.17; 0.05 to 0.53) 
 
Ioannidis24 
 Is time to completion and time to publication of clinical trials affected by statistical significance of results; 
	description of natural history of trials 
 Trials where data managed by industry of shorter duration than those federally sponsored (P<0.01) but no difference 
	in time to appearance in peer reviewed literature (P=0.33) †
 
Liebeskind et al31 
 Evidence of publication bias in randomised controlled trials 
 Median time between enrolment and publication of industry funded studies with positive results 3.5 years v 4.7 years 
	for negative studies; time difference for studies with any type of funding 3.5 v 4.4 years for industry funded 
	studies 
 
Massie et al33 
 Whether source of funding of clinical trials on angina affected publication process 
 48% of drug company funded trials published in symposium compared with 26% of studies with other types of funding 
	or where source of funding not stated 
 
Stern et al37 
 Extent to which publication is influenced by study outcome 
 Pharmaceutical industry funding not a statistically significant predictor of time to publication 
 
Funding source and economic outcomes 
 
Azimi et al12 
 How often do cost effectiveness analyses encourage a strategy requiring additional expenditures 
 Industry funded studies more likely to support a strategy requiring additional expenditures compared with those 
	without such funding (9/10 v 15/34, P=0.01); among the 39 articles that supported additional expenditure 
	the median cost effectiveness ratio of the 9 studies funded by industry was significantly higher than for 
	the remainder (P=0.02) 
 
Freidberg et al23 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and economic assessment of oncology drugs 
 Drug company sponsored studies more likely to report favourable qualitative conclusions (19/20 v 15/24, P=0.04); 
	overstatement of quantitative results not significantly different (6/20 v 3/24, P=0.26) 

Kamal-Bahl et al26 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and economic assessment of drugs for respiratory syncytial virus 
	prophylaxis 
 Industry funded studies more likely to report possibility of cost effectiveness or cost savings of prophylaxis in 
	entire high risk infant population either in point estimates or sensitivity analysis (4/4 v 0/8, P=0.002); 
	when likelihood of reporting cost effectiveness or cost savings in either entire high risk populations or 
	specific infant subgroups compared across studies, no difference between industry funded and non-industry 
	funded studies (4/4 v 3/8, P=0.08) 

Neumann et al34 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and cost effectiveness ratios and per cent cost saving reported 
 For incremental cost effectiveness ratio: industry funded studies $6000 v non-industry funded studies $13,000 
	(P=0.003); for per cent cost saving: industry funded studies 21% v non-industry funded studies 9% (P=0.002)‡ 
 
Sacristan et al*36 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and results of cost effectiveness studies 
 General medical journals: 3/6 cost-effectiveness studies with industry funding had positive results v 31/63 with no 
	funding or other source of funding; Pharmacoeconomics: 18/18 cost effectiveness studies with industry funding 
	had positive results v 4/6 with no funding or other source of funding 

Funding source and outcomes of clinical trials and meta-analyses 
 
Chard et al13 
 Results of clinical trials for osteoarthritis of the knee 
 Projects commercially funded more likely to support intervention than non-commercially or non-specified funding 
	source studies (P=0.024)* 
 
Cho et al14 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials and study outcome 
 Proportion of trials with favourable outcome higher in drug company sponsored research than in trials without 
	company sponsorship (39/40 v 89/112, P<0.01) 
 
Clifford et al15 
 Relation between funding source and trial outcome 
 Studies favouring new product: industry only funding 30/44; mixed industry and non-industry funding 16/22; not for 
	profit funding 15/28 (P=0.461) 

Davidson16 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials and study outcome 
 Studies supported by companies significantly more likely to support new therapies than trials with other sources of 
	funding or where funding not stated (33/37 v 43/70, P=0.002) 
 
Dieppe et al18 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and outcome of meta-analyses of treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee 
 Trend for meta-analyses sponsored by pharmaceutical industry to show a significant beneficial effect compared with 
	meta-analyses with other source of funding or unknown sources of funding (16/18 v 81/117, P=0.084) 
 
Djulbegovic et al19 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials of erythropoietin and study outcome 
 Drug company funded trials showed positive results in 21/23 studies (P<0.0001) compared with 5/7 studies funded 
	partially or completely with public resources (P=0.096) 
 
Djulbegovic et al20 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials of the treatment of multiple myeloma and study outcome 
 Drug company funded trials showed positive results in 26/35 studies (P=0.004) compared with 54/101 studies funded 
	by non-profit making organisations (P=0.608) 
 
Freemantle et al22 
 Investigate potentially confounding factors which may affect clinical trials that assessed the relative efficacy of 
	antidepressants 
 Most important structural predictor of outcome was trial sponsorship—trend towards increased efficacy of sponsor's 
	drug (coefficient 0.097; 95% CI -0.03 to 0.23) 

Ioannidis24 
 Is time to completion and time to publication of clinical trials affected by statistical significance of results; 
	description of course of trials 
 No significant correlation between presence of statistical significance, study accrual, and whether data managed by 
	industry or not (all correlation coefficients P<0.2) §
 
Kemmeren et al27 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and outcome of studies comparing effects of second and third generation 
	oral contraceptives on risk of venous thromboembolism 
 Odds ratio 1.3 (95% CI 1.0 to 1.7) for studies directly funded by pharmaceutical industry v 2.3 (1.7 to 3.2) in 
	other studies 

Koepp et al30 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials on tacrine and study outcome 
 0/5 studies without corporate support found clinical benefit; 6/7 studies with corporate support found benefit 
	(1 study could not be located) 
 
Mandelkern32 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials in psychiatry and study outcome 
 16/16 drug company funded studies reported favourable outcome; 10/16 non-industry funded studies reported favourable
	outcome 
 
Thomas et al38 
 Relation between drug company funding studies comparing topical glucocorticosteroids and whether study favours 
	product made by sponsoring company ¶ 
 Product tested favoured in trial: 37/48 in company funded trials v 12/22 in trials with other sources of 
	funding (P<0.001) 

Vandenbroucke et al39 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship and outcome of studies comparing effects of second and third generation 
	oral 
	contraceptives on risk of venous thromboembolism 
 1/9 studies without industry funding found no higher risk of venous thromboembolism (relative risk 1.5-4.0, summary 
	relative risk 2.4); 4/4 industry funded studies found no higher risk (relative risk 0.8-1.5, summary relative 
	risk 1.1) 
 
Wahlbeck et al40 
 Relation between drug company sponsorship of clinical trials on clozapine and study outcome 
 Odds of relapsing significantly in favour of clozapine in drug company sponsored trials (odds ratio 0.5; 95% Cl 0.3 
	to 0.7) compared with non-sponsored trials (0.4; 0.1 to 1.4); both drug company sponsored and non-sponsored 
	trials suggested clozapine mediates clinically important improvement compared with older drugs but industry 
	sponsored trials were more positive (0.4; 0.2 to 0.7 v 0.3; 0.1 to 0.7); industry sponsored trials reported 
	significantly fewer early dropouts compared with older drugs (0.5; 0.4 to 0.7) but non-sponsored trials did 
	not (0.6; 0.3 to 1.2) 

Yaphe et al41 
 Relation between sources of support of research and published outcomes of randomised controlled drug trials 
 Positive outcomes: 181/209 trials with industry funding v 62/96 with non-industry funding (odds ratio 3.45, 
 	95% Cl 1.90 to 6.62) 
 

* Results for all 128 commercially sponsored trials (114 funded by pharmaceutical industry).
† 56 completed trials (of 98 where data was not managed by pharmaceutical industry) included in analysis.
‡ 70 trials funded by pharmaceutical companies and 7 funded by device companies.
§ 90 trials where full patient accrual completed (of 98 where data was not managed by pharmaceutical industry) 
	included in analysis
¶ Outcome of studies assessed by independent evaluators.

Table 3 Relation between source of funding and methodological quality of research

Study 
 Criteria used to assess methodological quality of research 
 Results 
 
Cho et al14 
 22 item validated scoring system 
 Study design in drug company sponsored clinical trials better than in research where no stated sponsorship (P=0.04) 
 
Clifford et al15 
 5 item validated scoring system (Jadad) plus component (individual items on Jadad scale and adequacy of concealment)
	approach 
 No difference by funding source for adequacy of allocation concealment (P=0.377); no difference by funding source 
	for overall/composite score on Jadad scale (P=0.143) 
 
Davidson16 
 Sample size, blinding 
 For all trials higher rate of blinding for ones with industry sponsorship (67.5% v 41.8%, P=0.01); for trials 
	investigating medications no difference in blinding (P=0.46); for sample size no difference between 
	clinical trials supported by drug companies and those with other sources of funding or where funding 
	not stated 
 
Djulbegovic et al19 
 5 item validated scoring system (Jadad) 
 No difference in quality scores between randomised controlled trials funded solely by industry 
	(mean 3.3 (SD 1.4); median: 3.5) and trials supported by public sources (mean 2 (SD 0.96); median: 2) 
	(P=0.308) 
 
Djulbegovic et al20 
 5 item validated scoring system (Jadad) 
 Randomised controlled trials funded solely or partly by industry had trend towards higher quality scores 
	(mean 2.94 (SD 1.3); median: 3) than trials supported by government or other non-profit organisations 
	(mean 2.4 (SD 0.8); median: 2) (P=0.06) 
 
Jadad et al25 
 7 point validated scoring system (Guyatt and Oxman) 
 6/6 industry funded systematic reviews and meta-analyses had serious flaws versus 34/44 non-industry funded reviews 
 
Kjaergard et al28 
 5 point validated scale including: concealment of allocation, generation of allocation sequence, double blinding, 
	dropouts/withdrawals, sample size 
 Clinical trials funded by either drug or device industry had higher quality than trials with no external funding 
	(P<0.001); quality of publicly funded trials same as trials funded by drug or device industry (P=0.68) 
 
Knox et al29 
 9 item scale developed for this study, including clinical design, generalisable data sources, statistical tests of 
	significance performed on appropriate outcomes, statement regarding perspective, description of costs of the 
	main included resources, description of time horizon, description of source of total costs differences, 
	discussion of limitations, comparisons with other published studies 
 Drug company sponsored pharmacoeconomic analyses less likely to formally report on study generalisability, but were 
	more likely to provide information on the key components of the methods section than were non-profit sponsored 
	analyses 
 
Liebeskind et al31 
 100 point scale addressing 5 aspects of trial design and reporting: randomisation, outcome, inclusion/exclusion 
	criteria, description of therapeutic regimen, statistical analysis 
 Clinical trials with corporate support had better quality than trials with non-profit support (mean 73.1 
	(95% Cl 3.9) v 53.4 (9.8); P<0.0001) 
 
Mandelkern32 
 Presence or absence of placebo control 
 5/16 industry funded clinical trials had placebo controls compared with 3/16 non-industry funded trials 

Massie et al33 
 Not stated 
 Higher proportion of industry funded clinical trials were adequately controlled and designed than were trials 
	with other sources of funding (71% v 33%, P<0.01) 
 
Neumann et al34 
 Adherence to recommended protocols for cost effectiveness studies (adequate description of alternatives, 
	study perspective clearly stated, discounted both costs and QALYs if needed, incremental analyses 
	performed correctly) plus quality as judged by readers (scale of 1 to 7) 
 No difference between industry and non-industry funded studies on any measure: adequate description of 
	alternatives P=0.30; study perspective clearly stated P=0.98; discounted both costs and QALYs P=0.65; 
	incremental analyses performed correctly P=0.73; quality as judged by readers P=0.49 
 
Rochon et al35 
 Modified version of Chalmers score including 14 items: control appearance and/or regimen, randomisation, 
	blinding, patients blinded, observers blinded to treatment and results, previous estimate of numbers, 
	testing compliance, results of randomisation on pretreatment variables and inclusion in analysis, 
	major end points, post-beta estimate, confidence limits, statistical analyses, withdrawals after 
	randomisation, side effects discussion 
 No difference in quality score between industry only funded clinical trials and those funded by government 
	or foundations (mean 36.9% (SD 17.6%) v 37.1% (17.8%), P=0.271) 
 
QALY=quality adjusted life year.

source: http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7400/1167 31may03

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