To evaluate the association between funding and findings of pharmaceutical research presented at an annual meeting of a medical professional society. We reviewed the abstracts of all papers and posters presented at the annual meeting of a medical professional society. Two independent raters classified each study of a drug (n = 48) as either positive (favoring the drug studied) or negative, and as either funded by a pharmaceutical company or not. We computed κ and chi-squared statistics to evaluate the agreement between the raters, as well as the association between the results and the sponsorship of the study. Thirty studies of drugs (63%) were supported by pharmaceutical companies, all of which reported positive results. Of the 18 studies (37%) not supported by pharmaceutical companies, 67% reported positive results. The association between pharmaceutical funding and positive findings was statistically significant (P = 0.0007). At this scientific meeting, research funding from pharmaceutical companies was associated with study findings that supported the use of drugs marketed by pharmaceutical sponsors. We emphasize further study of this relation and suggest three principles - full disclosure, policies against "outcome bias," and educational opportunities - that may help manage industry-academia conflicts of interest that could otherwise jeopardize the credibility of pharmaceutical research presented at scientific meetings.
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