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Doctors Biased Against Drug Company Research, Study Finds
Date:9/19/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians are less likely to trust even top-notch clinical research if it is funded by a pharmaceutical company, a new study suggests.

The researchers found that doctors downgraded their perception of research when told it was industry-funded, whether or not the studies were rigorously done or of high quality.

Although attention to potential sources of bias is important, such skepticism can reduce the acceptance of valuable new information critical to advancing health care, the researchers said.

"The issue is, it could be a problem if the findings of high-quality research aren't being implemented," said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The study was published Sept. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, the journal's editor-in-chief and a professor of medicine at Harvard, said the validity of a research paper should be based solely on the quality of the research -- how the study was designed, conducted and analyzed -- not by the funding source. "Rigor eliminates bias," he said.

"One would think that the translation of research findings into clinical actions would depend solely on the importance of the research question and the quality of the data used to answer it, but this assumption is not entirely true," Drazen said in an editorial accompanying the research.

Pharmaceutical companies sponsor a large proportion of clinical trials of new treatments, the researchers noted.

Over the past 10 years or so, any financial support by drug makers has been noted in papers published in most medical research publications, Drazen explained. Some journals even include disclosures in the published abstracts of the studies -- short summaries that are widely read.

Such disclosures have been
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