Shanil Ebrahim, Sheena Bance, Abha Athale, Cindy Malachowski, John P.A. Ioannidis;
To identify the impact of industry involvement in the publication and interpretation of meta-analyses of antidepressant trials in depression.
Study design and setting
Using MEDLINE, we identified all meta-analyses evaluating antidepressants for depression published in 1/2007-3/2014. We extracted data pertaining to author affiliations, conflicts of interest and whether the conclusion of the abstract included negative statements on whether the antidepressant(s) were effective or safe.
We identified 185 eligible meta-analyses. Fifty-four (29%) meta-analyses had authors who were employees of the assessed drug manufacturer and 147 (79%) had some industry link (sponsorship or authors who were industry employees and/or had conflicts of interest). Only 58 meta-analyses (31%) had negative statements in the concluding statement of the abstract. Meta-analyses including an author who were employees of the manufacturer of the assessed drug were 22-times less likely to have negative statements about the drug than other meta-analyses (1/54 [2%] vs. 57/131 [44%], p<0.001).
There is a massive production of meta-analyses of antidepressants for depression authored by or linked to the industry, and they almost never report any caveats about antidepressants in their abstracts. Our findings add a note of caution for meta-analyses with ties to the manufacturers of the assessed products.