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Biological Chemistry

Flawed Drug Research Said To Cost Billions

by Andrea Widener
June 15, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 24

More than $28 billion per year is spent in the U.S. on basic drug research that cannot be replicated, according to a study published last week (PLOS Biol. 2015, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002165). The analysis of government data by researchers at the Global Biological Standards Institute and Boston University reveals that as much as 50% of all preclinical research in the U.S. might not be reproducible. “While false positives are an inevitable part of scientific research, our study shows that the current level of irreproducibility in preclinical research is very costly,” says Timothy S. Simcoe, one of the paper’s authors and a Boston University professor. The authors find that more than half of the reproducibility glitches fall into one of two categories: problems with biological reagents or materials (36%) and errors in study design (28%). Developing standards and best practices for reproducibility could promote research that more quickly leads to useful therapeutics and cures, the authors say.

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