Favorable Economic Analyses of Targeted Therapies May Reflect Financial Ties

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – A financial relationship between an author and a manufacturer predicted more favorable economic analyses of targeted therapies in oncology, a review of the literature published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology March 19 has found.

“A more balanced funding of economic analyses from other sources may allow greater confidence in the interpretation of their results,” wrote Valachis et al. from Sweden, Belgium, and Greece in noting this potential threat for industry-related bias.

The investigators searched PubMed through June 2011 for economic analyses of targeted therapies, including monoclonal antibodies, tyrosine-kinase inhibitors, and mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors. “The trials were qualitatively rated regarding the cost assessment as favorable, neutral, or unfavorable on the basis of prespecified criteria,” they noted.

Of 81 studies identified, they found economic analyses funded by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to report favorable qualitative cost estimates: 28 of 34 (82%) vs. 21 of 47 (45%); P=0.003. Author/manufacturer affiliation was not associated with study outcome.

Studies that reported any financial relationship with manufacturers (author affiliation and/or funding and/or other financial relationship), 66 of the 81 identified, were more likely to report favorable results of targeted therapies compared with studies without a financial relationship, 32 of 45 (71%) vs. 9 of 21 (43%); P=0.025.

“Considering the high cost of these drugs and the growing total medical cost of cancer care, this bias could have devastating consequences in healthcare systems,” Valachis et al. wrote. “The role of economic analyses in maintaining balance between newer medications and healthcare systems is crucial.... Journal editors and reviewers can also help reduce publication bias by evaluating the conflict of interest of authors and publishing studies with negative results.”


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