(HealthDay News) – Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug therapy randomized controlled trials (RCTs) funded by industry are not more likely to result in a positive outcome, according to research published online Jan. 24 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Nasim A. Khan, MD, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature and databases to identify 103 original RCTs on RA drug therapies published in 2002–2003 and 2006–2007. The authors sought to evaluate whether there was an association between industry funding of these trials and the characteristics, outcome, or quality of the trials.

Of the 103 trials identified, the researchers found that 56.3% were industry funded. Industry-funded RA studies tended to involve higher subject numbers and more study centers and were more likely to be double-blinded, utilize intent-to-treat analyses, and to provide good descriptions of study participant flow. Non-profit funded studies, which constituted 18.4% of the studies, tended to be of longer duration and to evaluate different treatment strategies. In the 83.5% of studies for which outcome could be assessed, industry-funded trials were not significantly more likely to yield a positive outcome. Although not statistically significant, the results of industry-funded RA trials were more likely to remain unpublished.

“In conclusion, industry funding of ‘published’ RCTs of RA drug therapy was not associated with higher likelihood of positive outcomes favoring the sponsored experimental drug. A trend towards higher non-publication rate of ‘registered’ industry funded RCTs suggests that publication bias partially explains the observed lack of such association,” the authors write.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)