US researchers studied the prevalence of comparative effectiveness research in six medical journals over a 16-month period. They analysed characteristics such as funding, design and outcomes in 328 drug studies.
Thirty-two per cent of papers were identified as comparative effectiveness studies. The authors say this finding supports concerns that only limited clinical research is devoted to using existing therapies more effectively. These were also less likely to be commercially funded, highlighting the importance of government and non-commercial funding in this type of research, the authors added.
Just 11 per cent of comparative effectiveness studies compared medications with non-drug interventions. Nineteen per cent of these trials analysed safety, with more dedicated to efficacy.
The authors concluded: 'Our findings suggest government and non-commercial support should be increased for studies involving non-pharmacologic therapies, for studies comparing different therapeutic strategies and for studies focusing on the comparative safety and cost of different therapies.'