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FAU Professor Emphasizes the Crucial Need for Large Scale Randomized Trials

Commentary published in the December 2, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association

BOCA RATON, FL (December 2, 2009) — In a commentary published in the December 2, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., the first Sir Richard Doll Research Professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science at Florida Atlantic University, said, “To detect the most likely small to moderate benefits or harm of drugs requires randomized trials of sufficient size and duration.  Overreliance on small trials, meta-analyses or subgroup analyses can lead to misleading conclusions.”

 In the commentary, Hennekens notes that 35% of the time, meta-analyses did not accurately predict outcomes of the large randomized trials. "If the totality of evidence is incomplete, it is appropriate to remain uncertain,” said Hennekens.

Hennekens also emphasizes in the commentary that small trials, meta-analyses of small trials and subgroup analyses are useful mainly to formulate a hypothesis, but not to test it. To make the most reliable clinical decisions for individual patients and policy decisions for the health of the general public, a sufficient totality of evidence should generally include some large scale randomized phase 3 trials with high adherence and enough clinical endpoints to distinguish reliably between no effect and moderate benefit or, on occasion, harm.

- FAU -

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts ten colleges:  College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the College of Business, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College,  the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.        

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