Drug trials 'skewed by the pharmaeutical industry,' GPs say

Four in five GPs believe drug trials are skewed by the pharmaeutical industry, amid widespread mistrust in medical research, polling shows.

A report by the Academy of Medical Sciences is calling for an overhaul of patient information following a string of controversies over the risks and benefits of common drugs.

The study found that just one third of the public have confidence in evidence from medical research – compared with two thirds who trust the experiences of their family and friends.

The pharmaecutical industry was particularly mistrusted.

Polling of more than 1,000 GPs found 82 per cent thought clinical trials funded by the sector were often biased to produce a positive outcome. That view was shared by 67 per cent of the public, in a poll of more than 2,000 adults.

The report says patient information leaflets, contained inside pill packets, must be improved so they can be easily read and understood.

The leaflets should also include information on the benefits and risks of taking a drug, and not just an “impetrable” and “unreadable” list of potential harms, authors said.

Professor Sir John Tooke, chairman of the report said the low level of faith in medical research was “startling”.

“While many factors will affect our decision making, we would like robust evidence from scientific research to play a more important role. For this to happen, information from research will need to be more accessible and understandable, as well as reliable and trustworthy in the future,” he said.

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