A new study published today documents the immense costs of opacity in medical research. Six case studies show in detail how the current lack of transparency in clinical trials has directly harmed patients, taxpayers and investors, and illustrates how these harms could have been avoided through three simple solutions: trial registration, results posting, and full disclosure of trial reports.
The study, authored by TranspariMED founder Till Bruckner and Beth Ellis, traces in detail how different combinations of hidden evidence, misreporting, publication bias and evidence distortion led regulators, health agencies, doctors, patients to overestimate the benefits or underestimate the harms of six different medicines: Lorcainide, Avandia, Vioxx, Reboxetine, SSRIs (antidepressants), and Tamiflu.
The problem of hidden and distorted evidence is well known in medical research circles, and the United Nations in 2016 called on governments to step up and finally resolve the problem. However, few people realize that even government agencies often lack access to the information they need to decide whether treatments are safe and effective. As a result, the agencies we rely on to keep us safe from dangerous drugs and ensure that public health money is spent in the most effective manner are often forced to fly blind, and both patients and taxpayers are paying a heavy price.
The new study, titled “Clinical Trials Transparency: A Key to Better and Safer Medicines”, aims to add to the existing literature on publication bias and research integrity in medicine by tracing in detail how partial or flawed data on the results of clinical trials has harmed patients, taxpayers and investors, and by documenting how each case could have been avoided through trial registration, results posting, and the full disclosure of trial reports.
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