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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cancer drug trials are 'being stopped too soon' - for commercial reasons.

Cancer drug trials 'being stopped too soon'

Extract from the Telegraph:

"The usefulness of some cancer drugs is being exaggerated because manufacturers are stopping trials the moment they find a benefit, experts will warn today.

Researchers have discovered a sharp increase in the number of studies that are terminated early and they argue that drugs companies are halting the trials whenever benefits are discovered. They use the premature results as the basis for licence applications.

As a result, the researchers claim, drugs that are hailed as breakthroughs could be of less benefit or even cause more harm.

A team from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, in Milan, found that of 14 drugs trials stopped early between 2005 and 2007, 11 were used to support a licence application.

Writing in the online journal Annals of Oncology, Dr Giovanni Apolone, of the research team, said: "This suggests a commercial component in stopping trials prematurely.

"We are aware that trials stopped early because they are showing benefit may result in the identification of promising new treatments for patients.

"However, findings obtained in this way require subsequent confirmation. Without such evidence, unsafe and ineffective drugs could be marketed and patients' health could well be jeopardised."

Trials on well-known drugs regarded as breakthroughs, are among those which stopped early. They include Herceptin and Tyverb for breast cancer and Avastin for bowel and renal cancer."