A new report in the British Medical Journal has found that studies paid for by drug companies are more likely to conclude that a medicine’s benefits outweigh its costs than are independent analyses. By one measure, industry-sponsored studies were twice as likely to conclude that a drug was cost effective.
The finding, based on a review of nearly 8,200 cost-effectiveness analyses, reinforces long-standing concerns about the biases of drug company-backed research. The study’s authors note that skewed studies can affect coverage decisions that might lead to higher drug prices.
This is an important issue because when public and private insurers weigh whether to cover a drug, they often use these so-called cost-effectiveness studies to evaluate whether a treatment’s price tag is offset by overall savings to the health care system.