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Collaborating to reassess patient-level data from existing trials, a new cooperative effort is working to improve the evidence base for osteoarthritis treatments.
Why is it so difficult to agree on the best treatments for osteoarthritis? In part because the patient characteristics are so diverse, the options are so many, and their individual effects are so modest.
For these reasons, two international research societies -- EULAR (the European Union Against Rheumatism) and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) -- have jointly launched the OA Trial Bank to gather and analyze individual patient data from multiple existing trials in search of better evidence.
The first pilot study in the collaboration will examine the evidence for efficacy of intra-articular corticosteroids for knee or hip osteoarthritis, analyzing subgroups of patients with severe pain but mild inflammation. As of last month, 43 publications had been selected as potentially eligible, with data collection through to 2013. So far investigators from 16 of these trials have agreed to provide individual patient data. Of the remainder, 11 have proved unreachable, 12 have lost access to the data and one investigator has sold the information.
The consortium, headed by Sita Bierma-Zeinstra PhD of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, hopes that the international nature of the effort and endorsement by the two major organizations will encourage researchers to share their data toward this goal.