But the trial has also to be seen to be independent if it's to have any credibility. Unfortunately, most trials are funded by the drug company, and they are prepared and written by the company's employees.
Under recent disclosure regulations, there's not much the drug company can do to hide the funding source - even though it reveals it in the smallest type possible - but there's plenty it can do to hide the authors.
It's common practice to recruit a 'name' - usually a professor at a medical school - who takes full credit for preparing the study, even though he probably hasn't even bothered to read it. Meanwhile, the true authors slip back into their corporate obscurity.
In a recent review of 44 medical trials published in 1994 or 1995, 33 were 'ghosted' - in other words, the true authors were never revealed. And, to a man, they worked for the drug company who would benefit from the favourable study.
(Source: PloS Medicine, 2007;4:e19).
E-news broadcast 8 February 2007 No.332 [Subscribe]