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Sharing Trial Data

It is time that drug companies get with the program and accept that sharing of clinical trials data is a good thing, and should be more widely adopted, at the very least because it could engender more trust between pharmaceutical companies and patients, Nature writes in an editorial.

The comments were published on the heels of a new UK government report which said that drug makers have been routinely hiding clinical trial information from researchers and doctors.

The report, from the UK Parliament’s Committee of Public Accounts, zeros in on the flu drug Tamiflu, which has been stockpiled at great expense by the UK government due to concerns about pandemic flu.

Yet, independent scientists seeking to find out how well Tamiflu actually works have had a hard time getting the information they need, in part because Roche hasn't been giving up the details they want.

Now, some members of Parliament are calling for the mandatory disclosure of all the data and methodologies from clinical traisl conducted by pharmaceutical companies, the Canadian Medical Association journal CMAJ reports.

The report finds that clinical trail information is "routinely and legally withheld from doctors and researchers by manufacturers."

"This longstanding regulatory and cultural failure impacts on all of medicine, and undermines the ability of clinicians, researchers and patients to make informed decisions about which treatment is best," the report states.

The Nature editorial says the time is coming for the drug industry to move toward greater data sharing.

"The industry is at a crossroads…. concern over the behavior of pharmaceutical firms is growing. Any anger over the industry’s perceived underhand tactics when it comes to data transparency could spread from the vociferous — but small — community of politically active medics and policy campaigners to the wider public," Nature says.