The Academy of Medical Sciences published a report in June 2017 examining how we can all best use evidence to judge the potential benefits and harms of medicines.Status: Undefined
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How can we all best use evidence?
To find out more about the report, visit our dedicated microsite.
In recent years, the evidence underlying decisions about treatment options has been subject to debate, for example on using statins to prevent heart disease and stroke, Tamiflu to treat influenza, and HRT to treat the symptoms of the menopause. How evidence is collected and analysed has been part of this debate, as have broader discussions of issues such as medicalisation (or the reliance on drugs over lifestyle changes) and conflicts of interest in the way that evidence collection is funded and/or analysed.
The Academy’s report, ‘Enhancing the use of scientific evidence to judge the potential benefits and harms of medicines’, explores these issues further. It concludes that scientific evidence should be at the heart of decisions about the use of medicines, as it is open to check and challenge. To enable this, the report calls for improvements to:
- The generation of scientific evidence to ensure it is robust, reliable and relevant to patients.
- The trustworthiness of scientific evidence so that information is disclosed in an accessible, assessable, and usable manner.
- The communication of evidence to ensure it is presented in a clear, accurate and actionable way.
Making progress on these fronts will require a collective effort from a wide range of stakeholders across the biomedical community.
Evidence feeding into the project
The report brings together a series of sub-projects that considered elements relating to:
- The strengths and limitations of different sources of evidence used to evaluate benefits and harms of medicines.
- The ways in which conflicts of interest impact on the validity (or perception of validity) of evidence.
- The communication of evidence to support discussion and decision-making.
- The perceptions and perspectives of society on scientific evidence (including in the context of shared decision making between patients and their clinicians).
Evidence that has contributed to this report, including workshop reports from the sub-projects are available in the evidence repository for this project.
Financial contributions towards the project
Arthritis Research UK, the British Heart Foundation (through a Strategic Funding Award), the British Pharmacological Society, the British Society for Immunology, the Medical Research Council, the Naji Foundation and the National Institute of Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme kindly provided financial contributions towards this work. Funding from a core grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the Academy was also used to support this project. This was an independent project that had the support of the Chief Medical Officer. Funders did not approve the conclusions and recommendations and were not sent a draft of the report for approval.
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