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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

In Clinical Trials About Half Of New Treatments Perform Better Than Existing Treatments


the-cochrane-library (Photo credit: Wiley Asia Blog)


From the 18 October 2012 article at Medical News Today


On average, new treatments perform better in clinical trials only slightly more often than existing treatments, according to a new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. The fact that experimental treatments are not more effective may seem disappointing, but the authors of the review say their findings satisfy an important ethical requirement for clinical trials.

Randomised trials compare the effects of one treatment to another. In a randomised trial patients are randomly allocated to different treatment groups to ensure that like will be compared with like. When a new treatment is being tested, it is hoped or even expected that it will be better than the established treatment with which it is being compared. These expectations lead to an ethical dilemma. If the researchers already know that one treatment is better, they would be knowingly allocating some people to an inferior treatment. If randomised trials are to be ethical, therefore, only half of new treatments should turn out to be better than existing ones.


Related Resources



Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting. They are published online in The Cochrane Library.


    • Browse Free Summaries

      Looking for the full text of these Cochrane Reviews? They may be available at your local public, academic, and medical libraries.  Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian. Many academic and medical libraries do serve the public, providing at least some basic services.

  • is a registry and results database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants conducted around the world.









October 18, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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