Does holding back data embellish the published results of clinical trials? You decide. From the Winnipeg Free Press: ====== Start Quote ============ Doctors, patients 'deceived,' Journal says Tue Feb 17 2004 TORONTO -- Pharmaceutical companies "deceive" doctors and their patients -- and perhaps their shareholders -- when they withhold unfavourable data on prescription medicines, the Canadian Medical Association Journal argues in an editorial today. The editorial was part of a package of articles looking at the suppression of trial data, with a particular focus on testing of antidepressant drugs in children and teenagers. Concern has been rising for some time about how safe antidepressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors are when used by children. There is evidence that SSRIs, as the drugs are called, can induce suicidal thoughts or actions in a small proportion of people who take them. Several countries, including Canada, have recently urged renewed caution over the use of SSRIs in children. Health Canada is striking an expert panel to study worldwide safety data on the question. In addition to safety concerns, there are questions about whether the drugs actually work in children. Last week the journal revealed that GlaxoSmithKline deliberately withheld trial results that showed paroxetine (sold as Paxil) was no more effective than sugar pills in children. The journal called it the "file drawer phenomenon" -- when clinical trials which don't reflect favourably on a drug get buried by the company that paid for them. The editorial called these types of trials a "commercial liability." In their defence the drug companies insist they have a responsibility to their shareholders not to reveal information that might give a competitor a leg up. -- Canadian Press ====== End Quote ============ What proportion of meager beneficial results reported for clinical trials can be attributed to withheld data? Can withholding data elevate nonsignificant results to significant results? Once admissions of withholding data are made, surely everything Pharma has done must come into question. They, by their reported admission, have a responsibility to their shareholders to withhold information. They do not have a responsibility to the public to be honest and above reproach. A.L.