Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Clinical trial


Objective To study serious harms associated with selective serotonin and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.Main outcome measures Mortality and suicidality. Secondary outcomes were aggressive behaviour and akathisia.Data sources Clinical study reports for duloxetine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and venlafaxine obtained from the European and UK drug regulators, and summary trial reports for duloxetine and fluoxetine from Eli Lilly’s website.Eligibility criteria for study selection Double blind placebo controlled trials that contained any patient narratives or individual patient listings of harms.Data extraction and analysis Two researchers extracted data independently; the outcomes were meta-analysed by Peto’s exact method (fixed effect model).Results We included 70 trials (64 381 pages of clinical study reports) with 18 526 patients. These trials had limitations in the study design and discrepancies in reporting, which may have led to serious under-reporting of harms. For example, some outcomes appeared only in individual patient listings in appendices, which we had for only 32 trials, and we did not have case report forms for any of the trials. Differences in mortality (all deaths were in adults, odds ratio 1.28, 95% confidence interval 0.40 to 4.06), suicidality (1.21, 0.84 to 1.74), and akathisia (2.04, 0.93 to 4.48) were not significant, whereas patients taking antidepressants displayed more aggressive behaviour (1.93, 1.26 to 2.95). For adults, the odds ratios were 0.81 (0.51 to 1.28) for suicidality, 1.09 (0.55 to 2.14) for aggression, and 2.00 (0.79 to 5.04) for akathisia. The corresponding values for children and adolescents were 2.39 (1.31 to 4.33), 2.79 (1.62 to 4.81), and 2.15 (0.48 to 9.65). In the summary trial reports on Eli Lilly’s website, almost all deaths were noted, but all suicidal ideation events were missing, and the information on the remaining outcomes was incomplete.Conclusions Because of the shortcomings identified and having only partial access to appendices with no access to case report forms, the harms could not be estimated accurately. In adults there was no significant increase in all four outcomes, but in children and adolescents the risk of suicidality and aggression doubled. To elucidate the harms reliably, access to anonymised individual patient data is needed.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Medical statistics, Antidepressant, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Venlafaxine


 To determine rates of publication and reporting of results within two years for all completed clinical trials registered in across leading academic medical centers in the United States.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Informed consent, United States, Avicenna,


Background The prevalence of pulmonary embolism among patients hospitalized for syncope is not well documented, and current guidelines pay little attention to a diagnostic workup for pulmonary embolism in these patients. Methods We performed a systematic workup for pulmonary embolism in patients admitted to 11 hospitals in Italy for a first episode of syncope, regardless of whether there were alternative explanations for the syncope. The diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was ruled out in patients who had a low pretest clinical probability, which was defined according to the Wells score, in combination with a negative d-dimer assay. In all other patients, computed tomographic pulmonary angiography or ventilation-perfusion lung scanning was performed. Results A total of 560 patients (mean age, 76 years) were included in the study. A diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was ruled out in 330 of the 560 patients (58.9%) on the basis of the combination of a low pretest clinical probability of pulmonary embolism and negative d-dimer assay. Among the remaining 230 patients, pulmonary embolism was identified in 97 (42.2%). In the entire cohort, the prevalence of pulmonary embolism was 17.3% (95% confidence interval, 14.2 to 20.5). Evidence of an embolus in a main pulmonary or lobar artery or evidence of perfusion defects larger than 25% of the total area of both lungs was found in 61 patients. Pulmonary embolism was identified in 45 of the 355 patients (12.7%) who had an alternative explanation for syncope and in 52 of the 205 patients (25.4%) who did not. Conclusions Pulmonary embolism was identified in nearly one of every six patients hospitalized for a first episode of syncope. (Funded by the University of Padua; PESIT number, NCT01797289 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Lung, Hospital, Heart, Pulmonary embolism, Pulmonary artery, Human lung, Embolism


Background The Food and Drug Administration can set standards that reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes. Methods We conducted a double-blind, parallel, randomized clinical trial between June 2013 and July 2014 at 10 sites. Eligibility criteria included an age of 18 years or older, smoking of five or more cigarettes per day, and no current interest in quitting smoking. Participants were randomly assigned to smoke for 6 weeks either their usual brand of cigarettes or one of six types of investigational cigarettes, provided free. The investigational cigarettes had nicotine content ranging from 15.8 mg per gram of tobacco (typical of commercial brands) to 0.4 mg per gram. The primary outcome was the number of cigarettes smoked per day during week 6. Results A total of 840 participants underwent randomization, and 780 completed the 6-week study. During week 6, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day was lower for participants randomly assigned to cigarettes containing 2.4, 1.3, or 0.4 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco (16.5, 16.3, and 14.9 cigarettes, respectively) than for participants randomly assigned to their usual brand or to cigarettes containing 15.8 mg per gram (22.2 and 21.3 cigarettes, respectively; P<0.001). Participants assigned to cigarettes with 5.2 mg per gram smoked an average of 20.8 cigarettes per day, which did not differ significantly from the average number among those who smoked control cigarettes. Cigarettes with lower nicotine content, as compared with control cigarettes, reduced exposure to and dependence on nicotine, as well as craving during abstinence from smoking, without significantly increasing the expired carbon monoxide level or total puff volume, suggesting minimal compensation. Adverse events were generally mild and similar among groups. Conclusions In this 6-week study, reduced-nicotine cigarettes versus standard-nicotine cigarettes reduced nicotine exposure and dependence and the number of cigarettes smoked. (Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products; number, NCT01681875 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Nicotine, Drug addiction, Addiction


Aging is variably but inevitably accompanied by declines in health; concomitantly, in men, circulating sex-steroid levels fall with age.(1) To what extent these two processes are causally linked and whether testosterone therapy can prevent or ameliorate important age-related problems have been major issues in men’s health. In 2003, a committee assembled by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found a paucity of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials involving older men and noted a lack of definite evidence that testosterone therapy conferred benefits.(2) The committee recommended that clinical trials be initiated, first to evaluate the efficacy of testosterone supplementation in older men and . . .

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Clinical trial, Death, The Canon of Medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Avicenna, Placebo


Background Dupilumab, a human monoclonal antibody against interleukin-4 receptor alpha, inhibits signaling of interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, type 2 cytokines that may be important drivers of atopic or allergic diseases such as atopic dermatitis. Methods In two randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trials of identical design (SOLO 1 and SOLO 2), we enrolled adults with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis whose disease was inadequately controlled by topical treatment. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive, for 16 weeks, subcutaneous dupilumab (300 mg) or placebo weekly or the same dose of dupilumab every other week alternating with placebo. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who had both a score of 0 or 1 (clear or almost clear) on the Investigator’s Global Assessment and a reduction of 2 points or more in that score from baseline at week 16. Results We enrolled 671 patients in SOLO 1 and 708 in SOLO 2. In SOLO 1, the primary outcome occurred in 85 patients (38%) who received dupilumab every other week and in 83 (37%) who received dupilumab weekly, as compared with 23 (10%) who received placebo (P<0.001 for both comparisons with placebo). The results were similar in SOLO 2, with the primary outcome occurring in 84 patients (36%) who received dupilumab every other week and in 87 (36%) who received dupilumab weekly, as compared with 20 (8%) who received placebo (P<0.001 for both comparisons). In addition, in the two trials, an improvement from baseline to week 16 of at least 75% on the Eczema Area and Severity Index was reported in significantly more patients who received each regimen of dupilumab than in patients who received placebo (P<0.001 for all comparisons). Dupilumab was also associated with improvement in other clinical end points, including reduction in pruritus and symptoms of anxiety or depression and improvement in quality of life. Injection-site reactions and conjunctivitis were more frequent in the dupilumab groups than in the placebo groups. Conclusions In two phase 3 trials of identical design involving patients with atopic dermatitis, dupilumab improved the signs and symptoms of atopic dermatitis, including pruritus, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and quality of life, as compared with placebo. Trials of longer duration are needed to assess the long-term effectiveness and safety of dupilumab. (Funded by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; SOLO 1 number, NCT02277743 ; SOLO 2 number, NCT02277769 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Cytokine, Monoclonal antibodies,, Allergy, Placebo, Interleukin 4, Regeneron


Background Each year, rotavirus gastroenteritis is responsible for about 37% of deaths from diarrhea among children younger than 5 years of age worldwide, with a disproportionate effect in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Niger to evaluate the efficacy of a live, oral bovine rotavirus pentavalent vaccine (BRV-PV, Serum Institute of India) to prevent severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. Healthy infants received three doses of the vaccine or placebo at 6, 10, and 14 weeks of age. Episodes of gastroenteritis were assessed through active and passive surveillance and were graded on the basis of the score on the Vesikari scale (which ranges from 0 to 20, with higher scores indicating more severe disease). The primary end point was the efficacy of three doses of vaccine as compared with placebo against a first episode of laboratory-confirmed severe rotavirus gastroenteritis (Vesikari score, ≥11) beginning 28 days after dose 3. Results Among the 3508 infants who were included in the per-protocol efficacy analysis, there were 31 cases of severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in the vaccine group and 87 cases in the placebo group (2.14 and 6.44 cases per 100 person-years, respectively), for a vaccine efficacy of 66.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 49.9 to 77.9). Similar efficacy was seen in the intention-to-treat analyses, which showed a vaccine efficacy of 69.1% (95% CI, 55.0 to 78.7). There was no significant between-group difference in the risk of adverse events, which were reported in 68.7% of the infants in the vaccine group and in 67.2% of those in the placebo group, or in the risk of serious adverse events (in 8.3% in the vaccine group and in 9.1% in the placebo group); there were 27 deaths in the vaccine group and 22 in the placebo group. None of the infants had confirmed intussusception. Conclusions Three doses of BRV-PV, an oral rotavirus vaccine, had an efficacy of 66.7% against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis among infants in Niger. (Funded by Médecins sans Frontières Operational Center and the Kavli Foundation; number, NCT02145000 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Malaria, Vaccine, Rotavirus, Placebo, Pediatrics, Diarrhea, Rotavirus vaccine


The risk of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) is largely influenced by lifestyle. Interestingly, cohort studies show that anxiety in general is associated with increased risk of IHD, independent of established risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Health anxiety is a specific type of anxiety characterised by preoccupation of having, acquiring or possibly avoiding illness, yet little is known about lifestyle and risk of disease development in this group.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Blood vessel


We explore whether the number of null results in large National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded trials has increased over time.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Heart, Effectiveness, Avicenna,, Vein, Pulmonary artery, Null result


Background Acetaminophen is a common therapy for fever in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) who have probable infection, but its effects are unknown. Methods We randomly assigned 700 ICU patients with fever (body temperature, ≥38°C) and known or suspected infection to receive either 1 g of intravenous acetaminophen or placebo every 6 hours until ICU discharge, resolution of fever, cessation of antimicrobial therapy, or death. The primary outcome was ICU-free days (days alive and free from the need for intensive care) from randomization to day 28. Results The number of ICU-free days to day 28 did not differ significantly between the acetaminophen group and the placebo group: 23 days (interquartile range, 13 to 25) among patients assigned to acetaminophen and 22 days (interquartile range, 12 to 25) among patients assigned to placebo (Hodges-Lehmann estimate of absolute difference, 0 days; 96.2% confidence interval [CI], 0 to 1; P=0.07). A total of 55 of 345 patients in the acetaminophen group (15.9%) and 57 of 344 patients in the placebo group (16.6%) had died by day 90 (relative risk, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.66 to 1.39; P=0.84). Conclusions Early administration of acetaminophen to treat fever due to probable infection did not affect the number of ICU-free days. (Funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and others; HEAT Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12612000513819 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Statistics, Mathematics, Estimator, Intensive care medicine, Interquartile range, Placebo, Fever