Using Meta-Analysis to Study Drug Safety and Efficacy


Khalid Eljaaly, PharmD, MS, CAPPS, BCPS, explains which studies are ideal to run through a meta-analysis.

Khalid Eljaaly, PharmD, MS, CAPPS, BCPS, Contagion® Editorial Advisory Board member, postdoctoral research fellow on infectious diseases and antimicrobial stewardship, MS student in clinical translational sciences, the University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy, explains which studies are ideal to run through a meta-analysis.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“The strongest types of meta-analyses are those of randomized clinical trials, especially [those] of good quality. If I [am able] to do a meta-analysis of those studies, that would be stronger. However, sometimes we don’t have those randomized clinical trials.

For example, one of the topics of great interest these days [on which] a lot of studies are being published [is] related to two old medications — cefazolin and antistaphylococcal penicillins. We used to use these drugs for years, but [only] recently, [are most of these] studies getting published. I remember [at] one of the conferences last year there [were] seven posters about the same topic. In that case, it would be of interest to do a meta-analysis and pull the results together to help understand how these two drugs are different.

One study is unlikely to tell us the exact answer [for] all questions; most often, those studies are of small sample size, they are [too] underpowered to detect a difference, if it exists. So, by doing a meta-analysis, if it’s well-designed, it might tell us if one drug is more toxic than the other one, if one drug is more effective than the other one, and if [this is the case] in all types of situations, or can we pull the results of 30 [different] populations and see if this drug works better than the other drug in this population.”

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