Back in December I attended a lecture by Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma. He discussed the problems that arise when results from clinical trials are not published. This can mean that the same research is repeated because no one knew about the first trial, thereby wasting time and money. In other cases, the reprecusions are much more severe, with patients receiving treatments which are ineffective or potentially harmful, all because the full information isn’t available.
Many clinical trials are paid for by the pharmaceutical companies that stand to profit from the treatments they are testing, and those companies often own the results of the trials. If the companies don’t like the results, they simply don’t publish them. There are organisations, like the Cochrane Collaboration, that try to find and compile these results to make them accessible, but it’s an uphill struggle. Ben explains the problem in this TED talk:
So we know that this is a big problem, wasting time, money and resources and risking the health of patients, but what can we do about it? The obvious answer is to require that all clinical trials be published. There are already various guidelines and rules about this, but they are flaunted by pharmaceutical companies who don’t want bad press, publishers who don’t want journals full of ‘no effect’ results, and regulators who don’t seem to want to rock the boat.
In light of this, Sense about Science and other have launched the All Trials campaign. The campaign is for all clinical trials – past, present and future – of treatments currently being used to be published in full. They are asking governments, regulators and research bodies to take measures to achieve this, and pushing for a cultural change in research that would see failure to report clinical findings as misconduct.
If you agree that all trials should be published so that informed decisions can be made, then please sign the petition or make a contribution to the campaign by clicking the icon below.