Industry-sponsored studies report more favorable findings

January 2, 2013

Industry-sponsored studies are more likely to report favorable findings on the sponsor’s drug or device, according to a recent literature review. Healthcare professionals who rely on systematic reviews to aid decision-making should be aware of this industry influence on conclusions.

Industry-sponsored studies are more likely to report favorable findings on the sponsor’s drug or device, according to a recent literature review. Healthcare professionals who rely on systematic reviews to aid decision-making should be aware of this industry influence on conclusions.

The report was published online by The Cochrane Library.

According to researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark; Ontario, Canada; and San Francisco, a systematic review was important to update the literature on industry sponsorship of studies to include devices as well as pharmaceuticals. The researchers used rigorous methodology to determine if industry-sponsored studies were more likely to report favorable findings and if those studies used methods that increased the risk of bias, according to the abstract.

The researchers found that industry-sponsored drug and device studies were more likely to report favorable efficacy results, harms results, and overall conclusions, compared with non-industry-sponsored drug and device studies. The researchers did not find any differences in methodology that would increase risk of bias on industry-sponsored drug and device studies, according to the abstract.

With regard to future research, the authors suggest that the source of sponsorship should always be reported, sensitivity analyses be conducted to assess the robustness of trials, and that journals require independent statistical analysis as well as make available the raw data. Further, independent trial data should be a mandatory requirement for gaining drug and device approval from regulatory agencies, the authors state.

“Methods for reporting, assessing, and handling industry bias and other biases in future systematic reviews must be developed. Specifically, further methodological research should focus on how industry bias is handled in Cochrane reviews,” the authors concluded.