Drug Companies Hide Data From Docs

Edited info could mislead those prescribing meds
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2008 10:22 AM CST
Vioxx, an anti-inflammatory drug from Merck, doubled heart-attack risk, killing an estimated 27,000 people. The company's studies had glossed over the elevated risk.   (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)
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(Newser) – Pharmaceutical companies aren't as upfront with doctors as they are with the government about their new products, a study finds. Though drug companies must provide the FDA with all of the data from clinical trials, related papers published in medical journals were found to omit info from 20% of the trials, and were often presented with a favorable twist, Wired reports.

This kind of biased reporting could result in doctors recommending expensive new drugs that aren't better than what was already on the market. But it can have more dangerous consequences as well: The elevated heart-attack risk that has been shown to accompany Vioxx use was glossed over in Merck's propaganda-esque studies, leading to an estimated 27,000 deaths. The FDA maintains that it approves drugs based on application data, not medical papers, and that it makes its finding public.