GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of lamotrigine (Lamictal), the antiepileptic drug used widely for bipolar disorder, happily hid clinical trial results which found Lamictal was no better than a placebo. Given recent findings about how often pharmaceutical companies selectively push positive results to publication in medical journals while suppressing negative results, this can hardly be considered a surprise. It is nonetheless instructive to examine how the published data on Lamictal paint a much rosier picture of the drug's efficacy compared to unpublished data.
Nassir Ghaemi, a psychiatrist at Tufts University Medical Center, dug through GSK's online database of information, and found that several negative Lamictal studies (studies which failed to show a benefit for Lamictal over placebo on the primary outcome measure) were quietly residing on the site. Why did GSK post such information on their site? Not out of the goodness of their hearts; rather, because they were forced to post data about clinical trial outcomes as a result of a legal agreement. Here's what Ghaemi found in GSK's database:
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