A 2016 editorial in the BMJ makes the following claim:

The top 10 prescription drugs in sales have a cumulative clinical response rate of less than 20%.

The claim is not the central theme of the article, which is an argument for doing clinical trials differently.

The author references this claim with a link to a Nature Comment piece. But it is unclear whether the claim is a fair summary of the argument from Nature or the consensus view of the literature.

Hence the question: do the most prescribed drugs have a cumulative clinical response rate of less than 20%? What does the claim itself mean in layman's terms and is it a fair summary of scientific opinion on the effectiveness of prescription pharmaceuticals?

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    The BMJ is a highly-respected medical journal. Do you have a reason to think it is publishing incorrect information, or to believe that random people on the internet are better suited to judge the claim than the BMJ? – DJClayworth May 25 '16 at 16:45
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    The fact that this claim is (in your view) a throwaway remark doesn't affect the claim or how we should evaluate it. Also, @DJClayworth just because the claim comes from a reputable source doesn't at all affect how we handle it here... we still just present the best evidence concerning the topic. If that evidence is already given as a reference in the BMJ article, so be it. – user30557 May 25 '16 at 17:48
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    @DJClayworth We take questioners at face value that they're simply looking for the best evidence. They don't need to assert why or even that they doubt a claim. – user30557 May 25 '16 at 17:50
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    @DJClayworth meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/2528/30557 Also, it is only our presumption that this is the best evidence available. Maybe there is other, conflicting, or better evidence. To close the question because we think it already contains the best evidence is not very skeptical. FYI, I would not upvote an answer that contained a single paper as reference without some reason why I can rule out that paper having been cherrypicked. – user30557 May 26 '16 at 15:30
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    @matt_black You might find support for your position in this meta q/a. I think that stands for the principle that if the claim itself is ambiguous, that doesn't necessarily warrant closure. – user30557 May 26 '16 at 16:45

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