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Much of what is known about drugs — whether they work and what side effects they may cause — is based on published clinical trial research, but some findings get swept under the rug, writes Julia Belluz at Vox. This means, she adds, that people have a skewed view of evidence undergirding much of clinical practice.

The US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a new policy requiring many new clinical trials to not only be registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, but also include a summary of results. The National Institutes of Health has taken this policy a step further to cover more types of studies than the proposed HHS rule.

Belluz asks Deborah Zarin, the director of ClinicalTrials.gov, about those policy changes.

"The goal of results reporting at ClinicalTrials.gov is to just get the facts out in the public domain without interpretation, so at a minimum, people could see the basic facts about clinical studies," Zarin says. "Right now we have over 15,000 summary results entries. The proposed policies would increase the number of trials for which summary results are required to be reported toClinicalTrials.gov."

Still, Zarin notes that gaps in what has to be reported remain, including phase one drug trials, early feasibility studies of devices, and studies of things that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate as a drug, biologic, or device, such as surgical or behavioral studies.

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