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Fibromyalgia drug studies influenced by conflicts of interest

Lana Bandoim's picture

A new report indicates that there is growing concern about conflicts of interest and fibromyalgia drug studies. Researchers found that most of the studies had at least one financial conflict of interest (FCOI), and many were sponsored by drug companies.


The main concern with study authors who have financial conflicts of interest is the impact on results. Critics are worried that the sponsorships from the pharmaceutical industry are affecting study outcomes because researchers are deliberately promoting the positive benefits of the drugs. The report from the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases reveals that conflicts of interest are widespread among fibromyalgia research studies.

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Researchers examined fibromyalgia drug therapy randomized controlled trials (FM-RCTs) and found that 55.3 percent received funding from the pharmaceutical industry, and an additional 10.6 percent received funding from both the pharmaceutical industry and nonprofit sources. Also, 63.8 percent of the studies hat at least one author with a financial conflict of interest. Despite this data, researchers concluded that study results were not being affected by the FCOI.

Although authors must disclose their financial conflicts of interest, and the pharmaceutical industry must also reveal its involvement in a study, critics worry about trust and results. Ethical issues are often cited, and previous studies have found multiple problems related to the FCOI. The Hastings Center, a nonprofit and independent bioethics research institute, shares that “industry-sponsored research tends to draw conclusions favoring industry, often uses an inactive control, and sometimes administers a higher dose of the sponsor’s drug than of the comparison drugs or uses comparison drugs that are poorly absorbed.” In addition, financial conflicts of interest can result in withholding important data from the public or delaying the publication of the data.

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