Double Standard: Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

So where is a similar report for climate, EPA-funded and other government-funded ‘researchers’?

Recall, for example, these instances originally reported on

The media release is below.


Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ today.

Relationships with industry are common among investigators of randomised clinical trials (RCTs) – raising concerns about the effect that financial ties may have on the evidence base. But studies investigating these relationships have been conflicting.

So a team of US based researchers set out to investigate the association between financial ties of principal investigators and study outcomes in a random sample of 195 drug trials published in 2013.

They focused on trials that examined the effectiveness of drugs, because these studies have a high impact on both clinical practice and healthcare costs.

More than half (58%) of principal investigators had financial ties to the drug industry – including travel expenses, honorariums, payment for advisory work, or stock ownership.

The results show that trials authored by principal investigators with financial ties to drug manufacturers were more likely than other trials to report favourable results.

Even after accounting for factors that may have affected the results, such as funding source and sample size, financial ties were still significantly associated with positive study outcomes.

The authors point to possible mechanisms linking industry funding, financial ties, and trial results such as bias by selective outcome reporting, lack of publication, and inappropriate analyses.

They stress that their analysis is observational and cannot be used to draw conclusions about causation, but say, given the importance of industry and academic collaboration in advancing the development of new treatments, “more thought needs to be given to the roles that investigators, policy makers, and journal editors can play in ensuring the credibility of the evidence base.”

More research is certainly needed to identify how industry funding and financial ties could influence trial results, say Andreas Lundh from the University of Southern Denmark and Lisa Bero from the University of Sydney in a linked editorial.

They urge trial authors to share their data and participate in industry funded trials only if data are made publicly available – and suggest journals could help by rejecting research by authors who are unwilling to share their data and by penalising authors who fail to disclose financial ties. The role of sponsors, or companies with which authors have ties, in the research must also be transparent.

In the meantime, trials with industry funding or authors with financial ties “should be interpreted with caution until all relevant information is fully disclosed and easily accessible,” they conclude.


5 thoughts on “Double Standard: Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results”

  1. There was a bank in Northern California that held the loans for most of the sailplanes purchased on the west coast. People would come from all over to get their loans from this bank. It was a quick an easy loan. In this case, the deciding factor was the banker there who was also a sailplane pilot. He saw the market need and filled it.

  2. I love all the drug commercials that end with the warnings, “Side effects could include blah, blah blah, more blah, [and then] and possible sudden death.” HA ha ha ha.

    either: A) the drug will kill you; or B) the lawyers are at it again; or C) all the above

  3. Years ago there was an elderly ophthalmologist in my area that spent a lot of his time performing “flight physicals” for pilots. Pilots came from all over the country to have him perform this exam and fill out the necessary paperwork. Some cynics suggested that the pilots were simply buying an easy “pass”.
    Recent times have seen the creation of a new medical subspecialty. The physicians that do this refer to themselves as researchers or clinical investigators. Basically they organize and administer clinical trials for drug companies. Much like the pilots who soon learned where to go for a quick and easy “flight physical”, the drug companies know whom to hire to obtain a favorable “study” result for their drugs.

  4. This has always been a problem with patronage system. It is called “The Golden Rule – whoever has the gold makes the rules.” People who depend on patrons for the financial support of their work quickly learn what their sponsors are expecting in their product, and strive to satisfy those expectations. This is true for scientific research, art, literature, and even things as transitory as public opinion polling.

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