Transparency International, Cochrane and TranspariMED have written to the 19 top non-commercial medical research funders, who collectively manage over $40 billion in funding, to ask by when they expect to have fully implemented global best practices in clinical trial transparency across their research portfolios.
Currently, opacity in clinical trials contributes to the $85 billion in medical research that is wasted every year due to the non-reporting of research results. In addition, it directly harms patients and undermines public health.
Funders can help to prevent reporting bias and evidence distortion in medicine by ensuring that all clinical trials they fund are registered and reported in line with WHO best practices.
Six of the world’s largest funders have already signed up to the WHO Joint Statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials, committing themselves to implementing WHO best practices across their portfolios within one year of signing up.
(Note that some signatories’ performance on delivering on their promises has been mixed.)
The other 13 funders have yet to sign up to the WHO Joint Statement.
The letter asked these funders when they intend to sign up to the Joint Statement, pointing out that a recent report called on public research institutions worldwide to:
“…adopt and expand on the provisions of the recent WHO-brokered ‘Joint statement’ by research funders, and ensure that they are fully implemented.”
An assessment conducted in early 2017 found numerous gaps in many public funders’ transparency policies, as the chart below shows.
In their letters, which were sent to the head of each institution, Transparency International, Cochrane and TranspariMED pointed out that:
“the existing evidence base on drugs and medical devices is incomplete and biased due to the opacity of clinical trials. The medical community, the private sector and public bodies lack access to reliable information on the benefits and harms of drugs, devices and treatments… Lack of transparency in clinical trials can increase the risk of publication bias, evidence distortion, manipulation of data and undue influence. It opens the door to fraud and corruption and undermines evidence-based health care, medical advances and public health objectives.
Medical research funders can support clinical trial transparency by ensuring that all clinical trials they fund are registered and reported in line with WHO best practices.”
Click on the image below to download a checklist of WHO best practices.
Once we have received funders’ responses, TranspariMED will summarize them on this blog.
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