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May 21, 2003

Effect of Industry Sponsorship on the Results of Biomedical Research—Reply

JAMA. 2003;289(19):2502-2503. doi:10.1001/jama.289.19.2502-a

To the Editor: In their systematic review and meta-analysis, Mr Bekelman and colleagues1 concluded that the industry-sponsored research was more likely to have results favorable to the sponsor, and that it was also associated with restrictions on publication and data sharing.

We have several concerns about their methodology. First, the review was restricted to articles published in English. This may have contributed to a language bias as studies with positive results are more likely to be published in English.2-4 Second, the authors pooled data from 8 systematic reviews and stated that the homogeneity test showed that the odds ratios (ORs) of numbers of positive studies sponsored by industry in each systematic review were not significantly different. However, the pooled results represented many different types of studies including randomized controlled trials, an economic analysis, and retrospective cohort studies on topics ranging from oncology to nicotine and cognitive performance. It is also unclear why the authors pooled the results of only 8 of the 11 systematic reviews they listed.