. . . .Consider: In the past two years scientists have announced the results of a $300 million trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate common, seemingly sensible but unproven strategies to treat blood sugar, lipids and blood pressure in patients with diabetes. In each case the more intensive approach, which used more medication to improve a patient's risk-factor profile, failed to improve the health of patients. One finding, corroborated by two other trials, confirmed that the strategy of markedly lowering blood pressure was not effective for older patients with long-standing diabetes.
There are many other examples of trials in which anticipated benefits from drugs and procedures did not materialize. A study published last fall tested the value of darbepoetin alfa, a drug that increases the red blood cell count and can treat anemia. This industry-sponsored study showed that the drug had no benefit and increased the risk of stroke. . . .