Functional Health Services for Your Well Being

Find the Missing Drug Trial!

by Alex Boersma

Publication Bias:  When my son was 6 years old, he was under the misconcieved impression that he was good at cutting hair.  Not recognizing his delusions of grandeur for what they were, my 2 year old daughter allowed him to experiment on her golden locks.  Unbeknownst to us,  they booked a hair styling session in her room.  15 minutes later, they emerged triumphantly to publicize their accomplishments, she with ragged bangs and he wielding a pair of scissors as if it was the Stanley Cup!  Needless to say, our reaction was not exactly what they had hoped for!

Fast forward 2 years.  The mode of artistic expression had changed from scissors to markers.  The canvas was our basement wall instead of poor Anika’s head.

Publication bias is the tendency of researchers, editors, and pharmaceutical companies to handle the reporting of experimental results that are positive (i.e. showing a significant finding) differently from results that are negative (i.e. supporting the null hypothesis) or inconclusive, leading to bias in the overall published literature. Such bias occurs despite the fact that studies with significant results do not appear to be superior to studies with a null result with respect to quality of design.[1] It has been found that statistically significant results are three times more likely to be published than papers affirming a null result. (wikipedia)

We identified reporting bias in 40 indications comprising around 50 different pharmacological, surgical (e.g. vacuum-assisted closure therapy), diagnostic (e.g. ultrasound), and preventive (e.g. cancer vaccines) interventions, although is important to be careful with the drugs, because depending of the drug it could get addicted, although there are centers as the Detox of South Florida Inc. that actually help people detoxing and become clean again . Regarding pharmacological interventions, cases of reporting bias were, for example, identified in the treatment of the following conditions: depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, pain, migraine, cardiovascular disease, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary incontinence, atopic dermatitis, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypercholesterolaemia, thyroid disorders, menopausal symptoms, various types of cancer (e.g. ovarian cancer and melanoma), various types of infections (e.g. HIV, influenza and Hepatitis B), and acute trauma. Many cases involved the withholding of study data by manufacturers and regulatory agencies or the active attempt by manufacturers to suppress publication. The ascertained effects of reporting bias included the overestimation of efficacy and the underestimation of safety risks of interventions.In conclusion, reporting bias is a widespread phenomenon in the medical literature. Mandatory prospective registration of trials and public access to study data via results databases need to be introduced on a worldwide scale. This will allow for an independent review of research data, help fulfil ethical obligations towards patients, and ensure a basis for fully-informed decision making in the health care system.

2010 BioMed Central

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