Doctors and patients are being misled about the effectiveness of some drugs because negative trial results are not published, experts have warned.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, they say that pharmaceutical companies should be forced to publish all data, not just positive findings.
The German team give the example of the antidepressant reboxetine, saying publications have failed to show the drug in a true light.
Pfizer maintains its drug is effective. Reboxetine (Edronax), made by Pfizer, is used in many European countries, including the UK.
But its rejection by US drug regulators raised doubts about its effectiveness, and led some to hunt for missing data. This is not the first time a large drug company
has come under fire about its published drug trial data.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was criticised for failing to raise the alarm on the risk of suicidal behaviour associated with its antidepressant Seroxat.
GSK rejected claims that it improperly withheld drug trial information.
But GSK has also been forced to defend itself over allegations about hiding negative data regarding another of its drugs, Avandia, which is used to treat diabetes.
Now researchers from The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care say there is unpublished trial data for Pfizer’s antidepressant reboxetine that should be made public because it could change views about the drug.
Dr Beate Wieseler and colleagues carried out their own assessment of reboxetine, looking at the results of 13 trials, including eight previously unpublished trials from the manufacturer Pfizer.
They found the drug was no better than a placebo in terms of remission and response rates. And its benefit was inferior when compared with other similar antidepressants.
Furthermore, a higher rate of patients had side effects with reboxetine than with placebo. And more stopped taking the drug because of side effects compared with those taking a placebo or a different antidepressant.
The researchers said there has been a publication bias and this had overestimated the benefit of reboxetine and underestimated potential harm. And, they said, it was a widespread problem that applied to many of the drugs in use today.
“Our findings underline the urgent need for mandatory publication of trial data,” they say in the BMJ.
They warn that the lack of all information means policy makers are unable to make informed decisions.
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11521873
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