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Clinical trial results inconsistently reported among journals, government website

  • Blog Post by: James Walsh
  • March 31, 2014 - 4:36 PM

Medical researchers often presented the findings of their clinical trials in a different way on a federal government website than they did in the medical journals where their studies were ultimately published, according to an Oregon Health & Science University analysis to be published April 1 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers' reports in peer-reviewed medical journals often were more favorable to the drug or intervention being studied than the reports on the government website — ClinicalTrials.gov — which required data for specific categories, according to the analysis.

One of the most notable discrepancies: Of the 84 clinical trials the researchers looked at where a "serious adverse event” was reported on ClinicalTrials.gov, 33 of those trials reported fewer adverse events in the medical journals than they had reported to the government website. In 16 of those cases, no adverse events were reported in the journals.

OHSU researchers said their analysis demonstrated the ongoing problem with inaccurate and sometimes biased reporting in medical journals. But it also showed that the government website could be another viable source for objective medical information.

"There's a general recognition that adverse events historically haven't been reported consistently in the medical literature. And underreporting of these events is a major concern because it can distort how health care providers balance the benefits and harms of drugs and other medical interventions for their patients,” said Daniel Hartung, an associate professor in the Oregon State University/OHSU College of Pharmacy and lead author of the study. "But our analysis also seemed to show that ClinicalTrials.gov could be a good alternative for consumers and health care providers to get comprehensive information about a drug or medical intervention.”

For more information on the analysis, go to: http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/about/news_events/news/2014/03-31-clinical-trial-results-i.cfm

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