The World Health Organization (WHO) called for greater transparency in medical research this week, moving that results from clinical trials for medical products be disclosed in open, free-to-access publications within twelve months of studies' completion, whatever their findings.
“Failure to publicly disclose trial results engenders misinformation, leading to skewed priorities for both R&D and public health interventions,” Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant-director at WHO, said in a statement released Tuesday. “It creates indirect costs for public and private entities, including patients themselves, who pay for suboptimal or harmful treatments." The statement continues:
For example, in a study that analysed reporting from large clinical trials (more than 500 participants) registered on ClinicalTrials.gov and completed by 2009, 23% had no results reported. These unreported trials included nearly 300 000 participants. Among clinical trials of vaccines against 5 diseases registered in a variety of databases between 2006-2012, only 29% had been published in a peer-reviewed journal by the WHO recommended deadline of 24 months following study completion.
“We need the collaboration of all these actors to enforce transparency in their jurisdictions in order to increase the benefits and decrease the risks for patients, clinical trial volunteers and the general public,” concluded Dr Kieny.
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