Measuring effectiveness of drugs in observational databanks: promises and perils

Arthritis Res Ther. 2004;6(2):41-4. doi: 10.1186/ar1151. Epub 2004 Feb 5.


Observational databanks have inherent strengths and shortcomings. As in randomized controlled trials, poor design of these databanks can either exaggerate or reduce estimates of drug effectiveness and can limit generalizability. This commentary highlights selected aspects of study design, data collection and statistical analysis that can help overcome many of these inadequacies. An international metaRegister and a formal mechanism for standardizing and sharing drug data could help improve the utility of databanks. Medical journals have a vital role in enforcing a quality checklist that improves reporting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Bias
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Databases, Factual / trends*
  • Drug Evaluation / trends*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antirheumatic Agents