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1.  Appetite suppressants and valvular heart disease – a systematic review 
Although appetite suppressants have been implicated in the development of valvular heart disease, the exact level of risk is still uncertain. Initial studies suggested that as many as 1 in 3 exposed patients were affected, but subsequent research has yielded substantially different figures. Our objective was to systematically assess the risk of valvular heart disease with appetite suppressants.
We accepted studies involving obese patients treated with any of the following appetite suppressants: fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine, and phentermine. Three types of studies were reviewed: controlled and uncontrolled observational studies, and randomized controlled trials. Outcomes of interest were echocardiographically detectable aortic regurgitation of mild or greater severity, or mitral regurgitation of moderate or greater severity.
Of the 1279 patients evaluated in seven uncontrolled cohort studies, 236 (18%) and 60 (5%) were found to have aortic and mitral regurgitation, respectively. Pooled data from six controlled cohort studies yielded, for aortic regurgitation, a relative risk ratio of 2.32 (95% confidence intervals 1.79 to 3.01, p < 0.00001) and an attributable rate of 4.9%, and for mitral regurgitation, a relative risk ratio of 1.55 (95% confidence intervals 1.06 to 2.25, p = 0.02) with an attributable rate of 1.0%. Only one case of valvular heart disease was detected in 57 randomized controlled trials, but this was judged unrelated to drug therapy.
The risk of valvular heart disease is significantly increased by the appetite suppressants reviewed here. Nevertheless, when considering all the evidence, valvulopathy is much less common than suggested by the initial, less methodologically rigorous studies.
PMCID: PMC126245  PMID: 12194699
2.  Reporting of adverse drug reactions in randomised controlled trials – a systematic survey 
Decisions on treatment are guided, not only by the potential for benefit, but also by the nature and severity of adverse drug reactions. However, some researchers have found numerous deficiencies in trial reports of adverse effects. We sought to confirm these findings by evaluating trials of drug therapy published in seven eminent medical journals in 1997.
Literature review to determine whether the definition, recording and reporting of adverse drug reactions in clinical trials were in accordance with published recommendations on structured reporting.
Of the 185 trials reviewed, 25 (14%) made no mention of adverse drug reactions. Data in a further 60 (32%) could not be fully evaluated, either because numbers were not given for each treatment arm (31 trials), or because a generic statement was made without full details (29 trials). When adverse drug reactions such as clinical events or patient symptoms were mentioned in the reports, details on how they had been recorded were given in only 14/95 (15%) and 18/104 (17%) trials respectively. Of the 86 trials that mentioned severity of adverse drug reactions, only 42 (49%) stated how severity had been defined. The median amount of space used for safety data in the Results and Discussion sections was 5.8%.
Trial reports often failed to provide details on how adverse drug reactions were defined or recorded. The absence of such methodological information makes comparative evaluation of adverse reaction rates potentially unreliable. Authors and journals should adopt recommendations on the structured reporting of adverse effects.
PMCID: PMC57748  PMID: 11591227

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