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Helping ethics committees separate the wheat from the chaff

      Disappointingly most clinical research is wasteful as it is either futile or risky for patients [
      • Chalmers I.
      • Glasziou P.
      Avoidable waste in the production and reporting of research evidence.
      ]. Often its questions pursue aims other than the unmet clinical needs they claim to address, and their methods cannot provide patients with useful and reliable answers. Limitations include the use of inappropriate controls or no controls at all, the abuse of placebo when effective treatments are available, the adoption of surrogate outcomes that mean little if anything to patients, and the inclusion of too few patients to see an effect that is not due to chance. Then there is always the fact that the investigators cannot independently collect, analyse and publish their own data in sponsor-driven studies [
      • Garattini S.
      • Jakobsen J.C.
      • Wetterslev J.
      • Bertelè V.
      • Banzi R.
      • Rath A.
      • et al.
      Evidence-based clinical practice: overview of threats to the validity of evidence and how to minimise them.
      ]. Even so, the scientific community still hosts the findings of these studies in its journals and regulatory authorities rely on them to allow new products onto the market.

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      References

        • Chalmers I.
        • Glasziou P.
        Avoidable waste in the production and reporting of research evidence.
        Lancet. 2009; 374: 86-89https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60329-9
        • Garattini S.
        • Jakobsen J.C.
        • Wetterslev J.
        • Bertelè V.
        • Banzi R.
        • Rath A.
        • et al.
        Evidence-based clinical practice: overview of threats to the validity of evidence and how to minimise them.
        Eur J Intern Med. 2016; 32 ([Review]): 13-21https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2016.03.020
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        • Blatch-Jones A.
        Models and applications for measuring the impact of health research: update of a systematic review for the Health Technology Assessment Programme.
        Health Technol Assess. 2016; 20https://doi.org/10.3310/hta20760