A nice blog post from the FT (click here) highlights an article that Iain Chalmers and Silvio Garattini have recently published in the BMJ (click here). In it they propose 4 suggestions to improve the way the pharma industry carries out research, they are:
1) Patients to be involved in shaping the research agenda – in other words, making sure research questions have resonance in real life and real-world situations
2) Legal requirements for research to be published, including trial protocols, by all (mandatory publication of trial data has had legal backing in the US since late 2007; no such protection for patients currently exists in the UK)
3) Independent evaluation of drugs. As the paper says: “The monopoly that the drugs industry has in evaluating its own products, and the secrecy surrounding this process, leads to biased evidence that is currently only rarely questioned by independent studies.”
4) A requirement to demonstrate “added value” for all new drugs – is this drug better than the current best drug treatment, or does it benefit in addition to it, and is it better than non-drug treatments? Too often, trials are done comparing a new treatment to placebo where there is a known intervention which is better than placebo. This means that uncertainty about how to use it best persists.