Studies on a New Drug Show Comedy of Errors When Not Enough Patients are Tested

A lesson in the safety and efficacy of new drugs is very simple: small studies are bad, big studies are good. This lesson has been proven all over again with a big trial of a heart failure drug called Natrecor (generic name: nesiritide).

Small studies made the drug look worrisome for some bad side effects. Now a big study has found those worries misplaced -- but it also found the drug doesn't work all that well for its main purpose of preventing fluid accumulation in the lungs of heart failure patients -- symptoms that give them a terrible feeling of near drowning.

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