18 Jan 2014

Drug company-funded studies can't be trusted, say researchers

2:18 pm on 18 January 2014

A health researcher and a doctor say the British Medical Journal should stop publishing research funded by pharmaceutical companies in the same way they have banned studies by tobacco firms.

The journal has published an opinion piece by Dr Richard Smith, chair of the group Patients Know Best, and Nordic Cochrane Center director Peter Gøtzsche.

The pair argue the findings of studies that drug makers produce cannot be trusted because the companies tend to publish good results in major journals while burying bad results.

But another writer in the British Medical Journal argues against banning the studies, saying steps are already being taken to improve the transparency of pharmaceutical research.

A Cochrane Fellow at the University of Auckland, Vanessa Jordan, does not think journals will ban research from drug companies but backed calls for more transparency in the way medical research is carried out.

She said it was shown in the case of antidepressants known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that pharmaceutical companies knew they were causing adolescents to have suicidal thoughts.