While Vioxx eased the pain of millions of patients, it also greatly increased the risk of heart attack and stroke among some of them, a risk discovered through after-the-fact analysis of data from Vioxx research studies.
Failure to identify such medical safety problems may often go unnoticed, a problem that could be prevented if researchers change the way new medicines, medical devices and other treatments are evaluated, says a new paper in the journal Health Affairs.
Such changes may have to be mandated, say the authors from the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of Michigan Health System.
The paper's authors say there are fundamental flaws in the way researchers usually analyze and report the results of medical studies making it easier to miss signs of extra harm -- or extra benefit -- for some.
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