There's been a growing understanding in the drug development world that studies boasting of positive data on a drug tend to get published in the scientific literature with great fanfare; negative studies are often silently allowed to sink out from sight. Now a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes how that trend has played out in the antidepressant field. Ninety-four percent of studies with positive drug data showed up in print, compared to 14 percent of the studies with negative or inconclusive results. And that has skewed the reported effectiveness of the drugs. If you combine the negative studies on antidepressants they were able to outperform placebos by only a modest amount, not the 60 percent in published trials that demonstrated a positive response.
That's not likely to be news to practitioners in the field. Antidepressants have long been notoriously unreliable. But it's, well, depressing, to see developers have been gaming the system with such indifference to the scientific pursuit of the truth. Could they have been more interested in making a marketing case for a drug? Need you ask?
- read the article in the New York Times