Question Reviewed

Does the publication bias of clinical trial results make drugs look more efficacious than they actually are and, effectively, affect the prescribing habits of healthcare providers?


PLoS Medicine reports that select studies on anti-psychotics were recently left out of medical journals. They assert that the drugs had no effect over the placebo or were inferior to cheaper drugs already on the market.

Out of 24 reviewed, Oregon Health and Science University researchers found that results of eight trials— two for Abilify (Bristol-Myers Squibb), two for Geodon (Pfizer), and four for Fanapt (Novartis)–were sent to the FDA but were never published.

Nevertheless, different researchers have found that such publication bias has had little impact on the drugs’ overall efficacy. Their study was limited due to problems such as the small number of trials reviewed.


Study protocols should be reviewed before reading the results, as this can develop bias. And these protocols should be made more readily available to the public so that they may determine the appropriateness of the results.

For more information on issues like this, contact the Kulkarni Law Firm.