While we're on the subject of patient studies, here's another thing: "regular" research with real live patients is not without its faults, no sir. By that I mean to say that even though studies using real, live people may seem quite preferable to computer simulation, things are not always as forthright as they seem.
Essentially, the article notes, "the pharmacuetical industry has much to gain by the selective publication of positive studies." Studies showing no significant impact, and/or disprove the effectiveness of particular products rarely get publicized, meaning the stuff highlighted on Google News and elsewhere for easy publication pick-up are invariably those that happen to make specific treatments look good.
The real information gaps, the article notes, "are in the core issues of health-related quality of life, diabetes complications, and mortality, which have never been investigated in in high-quality, randomized controlled trials (RCTs)." MRGGGIFF!!! (that's my supressed scream, due to recognizing just how difficult these far-reaching issues are to study in any reasonable way).
"The industry spends over $10 billion USD per year on funding around 90% of the 40,000 to 80,000 RCTs being conducted around the world at any given time," the DV article states. "That such a high proportion of RCTs is funded by industry is of concern. Industry has a vested interest: the trials focus on patentable and therefore profitable drugs."
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Yes, but what's to be done? This article calls for a more broad registration and publication of ALL research results. It also hightlights the work of the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent non-profit organization that "promotes the search for evidence in clinical trials and other studies." In other words, the Cochrane group gives you the skinny on open questions in research on their web site. Worth checking out.
The so-called "Cochrane Reviews" are "systematic assessments of evidence of the effects of healthcare interventions, intended to help people to make informed decisions about health care, their own or someone else's."
For example, see their synopsis of recent studies on Inhalable Insulin. Scroll down to read the "plain-language summary," which concludes, "We need longer studies to see if there are any side-effects in the lung. More insulin has to be given by inhaled than by injection to achieve the same effect, and the cost-effectiveness remains to be assessed." Gotcha, thanks!