"Scientists' Elusive Goal: Reproducing Study Results" by Gautam Naik, Wall Street Journal pg. A1, Dec. 2, 2011 says in part:
one of medicine's dirty secrets: Most results, including those that appear in top-flight peer-reviewed journals, can't be reproduced.
"It's a very serious and disturbing issue because it obviously misleads people" who implicitly trust findings published in a respected peer-reviewed journal, says Bruce Alberts, editor of Science. On Friday, the U.S. journal is devoting a large chunk of its Dec. 2 issue to the problem of scientific replication.
Reproducibility is the foundation of all modern research, the standard by which scientific claims are evaluated. In the U.S. alone, biomedical research is a $100-billion-year enterprise. So when published medical findings can't be validated by others, there are major consequences.
Drug manufacturers rely heavily on early-stage academic research and can waste millions of dollars on products if the original results are later shown to be unreliable. Patients may enroll in clinical trials based on conflicting data, and sometimes see no benefits or suffer harmful side ffects. There is also a more insidious and pervasive problem: a preference for positive results. Read more here.