According to the latest analyses conducted by American researchers, the results of many early clinical studies on investigating new medicines or procedures for treating chronic diseases are extremely exaggerated.
The average human life expectancy rises and, at the same time, the prevalence of chronic diseases grows as well. Thus, approximately 50% of all adults in the US suffer from at least 1 chronic conditions. By these conditions, they mean cardiovascular and kidney diseases, malignancy, and diabetes mellitus. All mentioned conditions have a wide range of treatments, however, most of these treatment options are associated with unpleasant side effects. What’s more, it is still impossible to cure any chronic condition.
That is why physicians and patients are always waiting for brand-new innovative treatments. As a result, the number of clinical trials grows rapidly as well: the quantity of registered clinical studies increased 7-fold from 2004 to 2013. However, researchers recommend being cautious while accepting the results from early clinical studies.
The specialists from the Mayo Clinic’s Evidence-Based Practice Center have conducted the analysis and called this phenomenon “the Proteus effect”. The results of early clinical trials on a new treatment for chronic disease are usually much more announced than the results obtained in later trials. During early clinical studies, the drug or procedure being tested looks promising and effective, while in later studies the effect size weakens. That is the Proteus effect. “This phenomenon of exaggerated early results was present in a whopping 37 percent of the studies we reviewed,” indicated Dr. Alahdab.