Too much health and medical
research may be unnecessary, unethical, unscientific, and wasteful, warns a new
global network, 'Evidence-Based Research Network (EBRNetwork)' - initiated by a
group of Norwegian and Danish researchers.
funders, regulators, sponsors and publishers of research fail to use earlier
research when preparing to start, fund or publish the results of new studies,
EBRNetwork experts argue. They stress: To embark on research without systematically
reviewing evidence of what is already known, particularly when the research
involves people or animals, is unethical, unscientific, and wasteful.
At the 'Bergen meeting'
partners agreed that the aim of the EBRNetwork is to reduce waste in research
by promoting: No new studies without prior systematic review of existing
evidence and efficient production, updating and dissemination of systematic
But is it true that
sometimes there is a waste in health and medical research? Yes, says Dr Hans
Lund, Chair of the EBRNetwork Steering Group and a senior researcher at
University of Southern Denmark. Dr Hans Lund gave an example: A recent
publication by Habre, C., et al (BMJ, 2014) concluded after a systematic review
that using lidocain before applying a propofol injection is very helpful. This
conclusion was based upon no less than 56 trials (including 6264 patients)
clearly showing that this was a good procedure. However, a later systematic
search for the same kind of studies showed that following the review from 2000,
136 new studies have been performed. Some of them have looked upon other
aspects of using the lidocain, but 95 studies after the first review in 2000,
was repeating the same studies already synthesized and showing a clear conclusion.
This is an example of researchers unnecessary repeating studies already
performed. The performed 95 unnecessary studies could be termed "research
Dr Hans Lund shares another
example of a "research waste": In a study performed in 2005 by Fergusson
et al, looked at more than 60 trials done during 1987-2002 to test whether
aprotinin could diminish bleeding during heart surgery or not. A cumulative
meta-analysis clearly indicated that after the 12th study the results were
clearly in favour of using aprotinin. However, following that 52 further
studies were performed giving no new information or changing the conclusion
that is also "research waste". In the case with aprotinin maybe more
than 2000 patients had suffered side effects or even died because of
unnecessary randomisation to placebo.
Indian researcher who is a
member of EBRNetwork also reiterate the cause it addresses. Dr Soumyadeep
Bhaumik, Executive Editor, Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care and an
EBRNetwork member from India, said to Citizen News Service (CNS): "What
the network aims to achieve would mean a tactical shift in the way medical
research is conducted and funded globally. It is not that India does not
have funds available for medical research but much of what is being funded may
be getting wasted and is redundant in nature- and hence no real impact or
breakthroughs. Most funding decisions have no objectivity into the way it is
evaluated. If all funding decisions and researches are done taking into account
methodologically-done and rigorous systematic reviews which determines the
current status of knowledge, it would not only mean more efficient use of
available resources but also translate into real-term health benefits."
The EBRNetwork now issues a
call for interested individuals and organizations to join the EBRNetwork and
work together in developing a consensus statement to address this challenge to
the very heart and values of research. The EBRNetwork brings together initial
partners from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and
USA, and was established in Bergen, Norway in December 2014.
Ref: Bobby Ramakant (CNS)