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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-10682

Puhan, M A; Vollenweider, D; Steurer, J; Bossuyt, P M; ter Riet, G (2008). Where is the supporting evidence for treating mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations with antibiotics? a systematic review. BMC Medicine, 6:28:1.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Randomised trials comparing different drugs head-to-head are extremely valuable for clinical decision-making. However, it is scientifically and ethically sensible to demand strong evidence that a drug is effective by showing superiority over a placebo before embarking on head-to-head comparisons of potentially ineffective drugs. Our aim was to study the evolvement of evidence from placebo-controlled and head-to-head trials on the effects of antibiotics for the treatment of mild to moderate exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. METHODS: We conducted a historical systematic review. Through electronic databases and hand-searches, we identified placebo-controlled and head-to-head antibiotic trials for the treatment of mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. We compared the numbers of patients recruited in placebo-controlled and head-to-head trials between 1957 and 2005. Using cumulative meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials, we determined when, if ever, placebo-controlled trials had shown convincing evidence that antibiotics are effective in preventing treatment failure in patients with mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. RESULTS: The first head-to-head trial was published in 1963. It was followed by another 100 trials comparing different antibiotics in a total of 34,029 patients with mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. Over time, the cumulative odds ratio in placebo-controlled trials remained inconclusive throughout with odds ratios ranging from 0.39 (95% confidence intervals 0.04-4.22) to the most recent estimate (1995) of 0.81 (95% confidence intervals 0.52-1.28, P = 0.37). CONCLUSION: Placebo-controlled trials do not support the use of antibiotics in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients with mild to moderate exacerbations. Conducting head-to-head trials is, therefore, scientifically and ethically questionable. This underscores the requirement to perform or study systematic reviews of placebo-controlled trials before conducting head-to-head trials.

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17 citations in Web of Science®
19 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic and Policlinic for Internal Medicine
DDC:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:05 Feb 2009 16:10
Last Modified:02 Oct 2014 09:19
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1741-7015
Additional Information:Free full text article
Publisher DOI:10.1186/1741-7015-6-28
Official URL:http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7015-6-28.pdf
PubMed ID:18847478

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