I spoke to Glen Spielmans, who wrote a study on the practice after looking into claims made in TV ads by Eli Lilly about its antidepressant Cymbalta.
As he went through every study he could find on Cymbalta – which is also known by its generic name, duloxetine – Spielmans began feeling as if he was reading the same study over and over again, sort of an academic déjà vu.
"There just aren't that many data to do all these secondary analyses on," Spielmans said in an interview. "That raised a flag for me."
I also spoke to a cancer researcher that while salami slicing does happen, it's worth remembering that trials are often designed so the data can be sliced up later.
"I would be careful of anything that's given a folksy name," says Dr. Ralph Meyer, director of the National Cancer Institute of Canada's Clinical Trials Group at Queen's University. ...
"Clinical trials are a lot of work. They're a lot of expense," he says.
Trials that Meyer has run, for instance, have looked at such standard questions as the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment but have also used the opportunity to examine the cost-effectiveness of the procedure or the treatment's impact on a patient's quality of life.
Jocalyn Clark, a researcher at the University of Toronto and an editor at the journal PLoS Medicine, says top journals like hers require all authors to declare if any part of the underlying research has been – or soon will be – published elsewhere.
She said universities and hospitals need to tell their researchers that slami slicing is not acceptable, and that academics taking part in the practice risk ruining their reputations with the journals they count on to publish their studies. In a part of the stroy that had to be cut for length, she equated the practice to ghostwriting, in that academics slicing up their data are not being fully honest with readers.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. has sent a letter to Eli Lilly ordering to pull its "misleading" print ads for Cymbalta.
Promotional materials are misleading if they fail to reveal material facts in light of the representations made by the materials or with respect to consequences that may result from the use of the drug as recommended or suggested by the materials. The Print Ad is misleading because it presents various efficacy claims for Cymbalta, but fails to communicate any risk information in the main part of the ad.