Good practices

Transparency in clinical trials

The BMJ (British Medical Journal), one of the most influential scientific journals for medical research, has announced that starting in January, it will publish papers involving human clinical trial results for medications only if the sponsoring pharmaceutical companies provide data on patients who participated in the trials. In an editorial published in late October 2012, the editor of the BMJ, Fiona Godlee, called on other journals to do the same and strongly urged the pharmaceutical industries to disclose the test data for all of their approved drugs. “The pharmaceutical industry does many good things. It produces medications that can improve health and save lives. Unfortunately, it also does some bad things. Over the course of decades, it has persistently and systematically withheld and compromised data from clinical trials,” the editorial says.

The BMJ praised the recent announcement by GlaxoSmithKline that it would release clinical trial data requested by scientific journals. It also criticized Roche, which for three years has refused to do the same for its tests on the antiviral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir), as requested by a group of researchers commissioned by the British government to evaluate the effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors, the family of medications to which Tamiflu belongs.