In 13 trials - including eight that have not been published - data on 74 per cent of patients taking the drug had been omitted, a German research team has discovered. When the missing data is included in the studies, reboxetine is found to be no more effective than a placebo, or sugar pill, and patients suffered such bad reactions that many had to stop taking the drug.
The few studies that had been published - and which included the results from just 26 per cent of participants - over-estimated the drug's benefits and down-played any side effects.
The researchers, from the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, say that it should be mandatory for all studies to be published, and in their entirety.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2010; 341: c5641).