Ethics in Medicine

Cracking Down on Unreported Clinical Trials

Kristen Sparrow • May 19, 2017


This is a crucial step in being able to make informed decisions about different medications, procedures and therapies.  Until now, groups were able to bury their negative results and only publish the positive ones.  This is, of course, because not only because of incentives of industry funded trials to find that their product/device “works”, but also because of the pressure on researchers to come up with noteworthy results.  John Oliver talked about some of this here.

Research funders take on unreported trial results

Some of the world’s biggest medical research and philanthropy groups have come together to create a new set of standards that’ll govern the clinical trials they fund. The guidelines — created by Doctors Without Borders, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others — would require any trial they fund to be registered and the results reported. About half of clinical trial results worldwide go unreported.

Researchers running clinical trials in the US are required by federal law to publicly report their results, but many research institutions frequently and flagrantly violate that law. That gap in reporting means doctors and patients don’t have the complete picture needed to gauge the risks and benefits of treatments. Now, the funders of some of those trials say they’re tired of hearing excuses about why results aren’t getting reported. The new guidelines give researchers who receive their funding a clear-cut deadline for turning in their data.