A leading epidemiologist has attacked Swedish research that looked at inequalities in patients access to cancer drugs across Europe and the world. In a commentary published in the September issue of the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology , Professor Michel Coleman says the Karolinska report is so badly flawed that no safe conclusions can be drawn from it about cancer survival, and he highlights the role played by a major drug company in funding the research.
In May 2007 Annals of Oncology published A global comparison regarding patient access to cancer drugs by Dr Nils Wilking, a clinical oncologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and Dr Bengt Jnsson, director of the Centre for Health Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics .
Their report concluded there was a link between national cancer survival rates and access to cancer drugs, with some countries being better at making new drugs available quickly and, according to the authors of the report, having better cancer survival than other countries as a result.
However, in his commentary, entitled Not credible: a subversion of science by the pharmaceutical industry, Prof Coleman, who is professor of epidemiology and vital statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, writes that the report uses flawed methods to reach flawed conclusions about the link between cancer drug vintage and cancer survival in European countries.
He says that the survival estimates in the Karolinska report are not survival estimates at all. The survival rates in the report are not even calculated from the cancer patients actual duration of survival, which has been standard practice for over 50 years, he writes. Furthermore, he says the estimates are wrong, and he gives an example for France, where the Karolinska report estimates five-year survival from all cancers combined as 71% for women and 53% for men, whereas cancer survival specialists at the French Cancer R
|Contact: Emma Mason|
European Society for Medical Oncology