Too Many Drug Trials Stopped Early

It's a common scenario in the world of medical research: Investigators announce in a major journal that the drug they've been testing has proven so effective they've stopped the trial early, to provide the drug's benefits to all patients involved. This type of headline-making "breakthrough" means publicity for everyone involved: the research team, the drug, its manufacturer and even the journal in which the study appears. However, new research published in the Nov. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that, in most cases, the purported "benefit" to patients is exaggerated or evaporates over the long term. "Even when things are done right, stopped-early trials run a risk of overestimating treatment effects substantially, and that risk gets even greater when things aren't done right," said study author Dr. Gordon Guyatt, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada.

Back to news