• Journal Article

How effective are common medications: a perspective based on meta-analyses of major drugs

Citation

Leucht, S., Helfer, B., Gartlehner, G., & Davis, J. M. (2015). How effective are common medications: a perspective based on meta-analyses of major drugs. BMC Medicine, 13, 253. DOI: 10.1186/s12916-015-0494-1

Abstract

The vastness of clinical data and the progressing specialization of medical knowledge may lead to misinterpretation of medication efficacy. To show a realistic perspective on drug efficacy we present meta-analyses on some of the most commonly used pharmacological interventions. For each pharmacological intervention we present statistical indexes (absolute risk or response difference, percentage response ratio, mean difference, standardized mean difference) that are often used to represent efficacy. We found that some of the medications have relatively low effect sizes with only 11 out of 17 of them showing a minimal clinically important difference. Efficacy was often established based on surrogate outcomes and not the more relevant patient-oriented outcomes. As the interpretation of the efficacy of medication is complex, more training for physicians might be needed to get a more realistic view of drug efficacy. That could help prevent harmful overtreatment and reinforce an evidence-based, but personalized medicine