Today’s Big News Shocker

pharmaceuticals drugsAccording to WaPo, when the pharmaceutical giants conduct research, they tend to find their own products the most effective.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. recently funded five studies that compared its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa with Risperdal, a competing drug made by Janssen. All five showed Zyprexa was superior in treating schizophrenia.

But when Janssen sponsored its own studies comparing the two drugs, Risperdal came out ahead in two out of three.

In fact, when psychiatrist John Davis analyzed every publicly available trial funded by the pharmaceutical industry pitting six new antipsychotic drugs against one another, nine in 10 showed that the best drug was the one made by the company funding the study.

Who’da ever thunk it?

Now we get to the really scary part:

Reliance on industry-sponsored studies is not limited to psychiatry, but experts say the problem is exacerbated in areas of medicine where the goal of trials is not to demonstrate cures but to measure symptomatic relief, which allows more latitude in how the results are interpreted and marketed. Now a growing chorus of experts is asking whether the research establishment needs to be reoriented toward publicly funded studies that might better guide clinical decisions and the billions of tax dollars the government spends on treatment.

“A perfectly independent agency has to be set up that says, ‘Here are the areas where trials must be done,’ ” said Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “There will be two classes of trials — the believable ones and the non-believable ones.”

I have no problem with independent studies, but this sure smells of government studies — which will never be independent.

4 Comments
  1. Why can’t the insurance companies fund them? They’re the ones who have to pay out for unintended side-effects. They insure the patients, doctors and the drug companies, too.

    They could have a safety rating system, and make it available on-line as a service to the public (prospective customers) or limit it to current customers.

    I remember my chiropractor pointing out how much cheaper his malpractice insurance was when I asked about chiropractic safety and effectiveness. I think I’d trust the insurance companies not to mess up the statistics.

  2. I prefer the Underwriter’s Lab model. The Good Housekeeping seal of approval need not come from the government, but from a private organization with the self-interest to preserve their reputation.

  3. Stephen — I agree almost whole-heartedly with you there. The two comments thus far could also be readily combined to one element:

    An “independant” research company funded by the insurance companies to do research sponsored by the insurance companies to determine which drugs would be skewed favorably towards those drugs which would be the cheapest/most effective for the common population. (I.e.; this would focus more on cures than treatment, as curing people costs *insurance* companies less, statistically, than continued treatment.)

    Put the two together and you get a company researching products produced by companies that have no input on the results of the original company, nor impetus for that first company to please the others.

    In *THAT* manner it can successfully be independant of the skewing factors presented by the current pharmaceutical companies.