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Cancer Drug Trials Ended Too Soon To Be Ethical or Safe?

Filed April 14th, 2008 amy

Are ended early unethically, just to get the drugs on the market sooner? Is the safety of cancer patients being compromised by commercial greed?

These were the questions addressed by a recent article, which took a look at research done by Giovanni Apolone at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy. Apolone looked at trials conducted between 1997 and 2007, which had been stopped after an interim analysis of the data. Analyzed were 25 cancer drug trials over the past 11 years which were stopped early because they suggested a strong benefit to patients being given the drug. But was stopping such trials really to the benefit of cancer patients, or to the pharmaceutical companies?

Of the 25 trials, more than 50% were stopped within the last three years. Apolone identified a trend towards prematurely halted trials being used to support an application for marketing the drugs. 12 of the studies were used to support a marketing application, and 11 of those have been published during the past three years.

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