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Major global diseases that affect the world's poor are under-represented among trial studies in leading medical journals, according to a review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The review examined 286 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published in six leading medical journals. As well as determining which diseases were represented, the researchers asked 12 experts from international health organisations to assess the studies' relevance to global health.

Only 31.5 per cent of RCTs studied one of the top ten causes of the global disease burden. Of these, just 14 were rated as being highly relevant to international health. And seven of the 35 most deadly and debilitating diseases were not studied in any trial published by the journals.

Link to full news story in the British Medical Journal

Link to research paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal 

Reference: British Medical Journal 328, 1337 (2004)