Drug companies get what they pay for

Pharmacy sign

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Turns out it's pretty easy for pharmaceutical companies to get the results they want on drug studies, they just have to pay researchers to do the study. That's the finding of a new study. But results like that don't help doctors or patients find the best drug. Janet Babin reports from the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.

Janet Babin: Those anti-cholesterol pills called statins are the best selling drugs in the world — a $35 billion global market according to IMS Health..

So when researchers from UC San Francisco wanted to figure out if drug studies were biased, they looked at statin research — almost 200 brand comparisons. They found that when a brand got top marks, it was 35 times more likely that it was made by the company that paid for the drug trial.

Professor Lisa Bero wrote the study. She says researchers are partly to blame for taking on studies that are just marketing ploys.

Lisa Bero: I'd love to see researchers only get involved in the studies that ask the important clinical questions and not waste their time on more of the marketing studies. But, you know, they do it because they get some funding out of it.

Bero says consumers and doctors should be skeptical of drug studies — especially those paid for by drug companies.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Turns out it's pretty easy for pharmaceutical companies to get the results they want on drug studies, they just have to pay researchers to do the study. That's the finding of a new study. But results like that don't help doctors or patients find the best drug. Janet Babin reports from the Marketplace Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.

Janet Babin: Those anti-cholesterol pills called statins are the best selling drugs in the world — a $35 billion global market according to IMS Health..

So when researchers from UC San Francisco wanted to figure out if drug studies were biased, they looked at statin research — almost 200 brand comparisons. They found that when a brand got top marks, it was 35 times more likely that it was made by the company that paid for the drug trial.

Professor Lisa Bero wrote the study. She says researchers are partly to blame for taking on studies that are just marketing ploys.

Lisa Bero: I'd love to see researchers only get involved in the studies that ask the important clinical questions and not waste their time on more of the marketing studies. But, you know, they do it because they get some funding out of it.

Bero says consumers and doctors should be skeptical of drug studies — especially those paid for by drug companies.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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