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Pharmaceutical Sponsorship Bias Influences Thrombolytic Literature in Acute Ischemic Stroke

  • Author(s): Radecki, Ryan P
  • et al.
Abstract

Background: The efficacy of thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke remains controversial in Emergency Medicine and has not been fully endorsed by either the American College of Emergency Physicians or the American Academy of emergency medicine. A growing recognition exists of the influence of pharmaceutical sponsorship on the reported findings of published clinical trials. Sponsorship bias has been suggested as a potential criticism of the literature and guidelines favoring thrombolytic therapy.

Objective: The objective of this study is to review the most influential literature regarding thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke and document the presence or absence of pharmaceutical sponsorship.

Methods: A publication-citation analysis was performed to identify the most frequently cited articles pertaining to thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke. Identified articles were reviewed for disclosures of pharmaceutical funding.

Results: Of the 20 most-cited articles pertaining to thrombolytic therapy for acute stroke, 17 (85%) disclosed pharmaceutical sponsorship. These disclosures range from general sponsorship to direct employment of authors by pharmaceutical companies.

Conclusion: An overwhelming predominance of the most influential literature regarding thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke is susceptible to sponsorship bias. This potential bias may provide a basis for physician concern regarding the efficacy and safety of thrombolytic therapy. Further, large, independent, placebo-controlled studies may be required to guide therapy and professional guidelines definitively for acute ischemic stroke. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(4):435–441.]

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