Pharma-Funded Studies Conclude Less Risk from Inhaled Corticosteroids Than Studies Funded by Other Organizations

Concerns have been raised about the use of inhaled corticosteroids for long-term treatment of children or for milder cases of asthma and other respiratory problems. While many studies have been conducted on the adverse effects of inhaled corticosteroids, researchers have found that studies funded by pharmaceutical companies are less likely to find significant differences in adverse effects between individuals assigned to inhaled corticosteroid groups and those who were not when compared to results of studies funded by other groups.

Specifically, 34.5% of pharma-funded studies and 65.1% of studies funded by other groups, including non-profit organizations and government agencies, found a significant difference in adverse effects between the two groups of patients.

The study by Antonio Nieto, M.D., Ph.D., of the Children’s Hospital La Fe, Valencia, Spain and colleagues assessed the safety reporting of inhaled corticosteroids in 504 studies of the drugs published between 1993 and 2002. Of those, 275 were funded by pharmaceutical companies and 229 were funded by other sources.

The authors conclude that "having information on source of funding will help readers of these studies have a better informed and balanced judgment on the authors’ interpretations," and that "disclosure of conflicts of interest should be strengthened for a more balanced opinion on the safety of drugs."

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, October 22, 2007