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Featured Clinical Reviews

September 3, 2008

Industry-Sponsored Clinical Research: A Broken System

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2008;300(9):1069-1071. doi:10.1001/jama.300.9.1069

Over the past 2 decades, the pharmaceutical industry has gained unprecedented control over the evaluation of its own products. Drug companies now finance most clinical research on prescription drugs, and there is mounting evidence that they often skew the research they sponsor to make their drugs look better and safer. Two recent articles underscore the problem: one showed that many publications concerning Merck's rofecoxib that were attributed primarily or solely to academic investigators were actually written by Merck employees or medical publishing companies hired by Merck1; the other showed that the company manipulated the data analysis in 2 clinical trials to minimize the increased mortality associated with rofecoxib.2 Bias in the way industry-sponsored research is conducted and reported is not unusual and by no means limited to Merck.3

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