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Canada pledges to monitor whether publicly funded clinical trials make their results public

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research will in future require their grantees to make the results of all clinical trials public – and monitor grantee compliance. Researchers who failed to register trials or share their results may be refused further funding.

By signing up to the WHO Joint Statement, CIHR has committed to putting into place the following policies within the next 12 months:

  • All clinical trials must be prospectively registered

  • Registry entries must be updated regularly

  • Trial results must be posted on registries within 12 months of trial completion

  • Protocols must be made public at the time of results disclosure

In addition, CIHR will actively monitor compliance, and make its monitoring results public. See here for a checklist of all commitments.

CIHR is the second funder this year to commit to implementing WHO best practices this year, following the New Zealand Health Research Council sign-up this summer. CIHR invests around US$ 750 million into medical research per year.

The 23 signatories of the WHO Joint Statement to date include Wellcome Trust, Gates Foundation, and the Indian Council of Medical Research. However, so far only Wellcome Trust and the UK’s Medical Research Council have produced the promised monitoring reports. However, Gates Foundation and NIHR are reportedly working on monitoring systems.

Worldwide, an estimated $85 billion are wasted every year because the results of costly medical research are not made public.

The resulting gaps in the medical evidence base have already led to thousands of patient deaths. For these reasons, Cochrane and Transparency International have called on funders worldwide to sign up to the WHO Joint Statement.

Among public funding institutions in Europe, only Horizon 2020, the Research Council of Norway, Dutch ZonMw, and the UK’s two leading funders have signed up. Public funders in other European countries – including heavy hitters like Germany’s DFG and BMBF – have yet to sign up.

In its announcement, CIHR explained that:

“Improving the timely disclosure of clinical trial results will increase value and efficiency in the use of research funds, reduce reporting biases and waste in research, and contribute to better decision-making in health. CIHR’s signing of the WHO Joint Statement affirms the agency’s commitment to improving transparency and reducing publication biases in the Canadian health research enterprise by ensuring clinical research findings are made available to those who can benefit from and build upon them.”

TranspariMED strongly welcomes CIHR’s new transparency commitments, and encourages Canadian medical and transparency groups to use this checklist to monitor whether CIHR delivers on its promises over the coming 12 months.


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