Drug Industry-Funded Breast Cancer Research Rising

Increasing pharmaceutical involvement may affect study design and results

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The proportion of pharmaceutical industry-sponsored breast cancer research has increased over time, and makes up about 60 percent of published studies, according to an analysis of 1993-2003 data published online Feb. 26 in Cancer. Such studies are more likely than non-industry research to be positive, single-arm and focus on metastatic disease.

Jeffrey Peppercorn, M.D., M.P.H. of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, and colleagues reviewed 140 studies, including 45 published in 1993, 39 published in 1998 and 56 published in 2003.

The researchers found that pharmaceutical involvement in the studies increased from 44 percent in 1993 to 58 percent in 2003. They also found that the 2003 studies that reported pharmaceutical involvement were more likely than non-sponsored studies to be considered positive (84 percent versus 54 percent), single-arm (66 percent versus 33 percent), and to evaluate metastatic disease (72 percent versus 46 percent).

"What this association means for the future of breast cancer research is unclear," the authors conclude. "It may yield better therapies for treatment of breast cancer but, at the same time, may focus research on some clinical problems while neglecting others. Given the importance of breast cancer as a public health problem and the current necessity of the pharmaceutical industry as a supporter of clinical breast cancer research, further study is needed to evaluate and understand the impact of industry involvement on research design and outcomes and, ultimately, to determine the potential impact on patient care."

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