Cochrane inCORR®: Industry Sponsorship and Research Outcome

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In the past decade, the number of clinical trials funded by industry has substantially increased in the United States [9]. The drug and device industry now funds six times more clinical trials than the federal government [3]. This may be cause for concern, as publication agreements in which industry sponsors constrain academic authors’ independence are common [5] and several research articles suggest industry sponsorship is more likely to result in pro-industry findings, pro-industry conclusions, and suppression of negative results [1, 2, 6, 8, 11]. A recent example of industry manipulation involved a randomized trial on low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for tibial shaft fractures. The industry sponsor conducted an unplanned interim analysis and, on the grounds of no difference in effect between treatment and control, discontinued the trial early [4, 13].
This Cochrane review examined 75 articles investigating whether industry funding of drug and device studies is associated with conclusions that are more favorable to the sponsor [10]. The review concluded that industry-sponsored studies reported more favorable efficacy results, similar harm results, more favorable conclusions, and less concordance between study results and conclusions when compared to nonindustry-sponsored studies. Industry-funded trials were also more likely to be at low risk of bias due to blinding.
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