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How the UK is ending research waste - explained in 153 words

The UK is on track to become the first country to finally fix the problem of unreported clinical trials. Here’s how the UK system works, in 153 words and 1 chart.

Fixing clinical trial registration

Ethics committees (about 60 countrywide) send the protocols of all studies that they approve to the Health Research Authority in London. Staff at the Health Research Authority (HRA) then directly register every clinical trial on the ISRCTN registry. After the trial has been registered, the principal investigator of the trial takes over registry management, and is responsible for keeping the registry entry updated and uploading the results.

Fixing clinical trial reporting

Because it directly registers all trials run in the country, the HRA has a comprehensive overview of all clinical research. One year after a trial has been completed, the HRA checks on the registry to see whether the results have been uploaded there. If not, it sends a reminder to the principal investigator. The HRA also publishes annual trial audits that in future will show who has made their trial results public on time, and who has not.

Key advantages

  • All interventional trials involving UK patients covered

  • 100% of trials registered

  • 100% of trial results made public

  • Faster sharing of results

  • Less bureaucracy for researchers and trial sponsors

Cost and value for money

The exact cost of developing and implementing the strategy is unclear because it involves work by multiple players. However, the total cost to all players combined is certainly less than one million Euros, a marginal amount compared to the large direct costs (waste of research funding) and indirect costs (suboptimal HTA, procurement and treatment decisions) associated with letting clinical trials go unreported.

Yes, but...

  • Modern governments routinely track millions of driving licenses and tax returns.

  • It’s clearly possible for modern governments to track a few thousand clinical trials.

  • It’s clearly possible for modern governments to fix this problem, once and for all.

New policy brief

TranspariMED has produced a two page policy brief that explains how the UK approach works.

Please share the policy brief below with decision makers in your own country.

TranspariMED_UK clinical trial transparency_TB20220614
Download PDF • 225KB

To learn more about how student activists, campaign groups and political leaders worked together to make the UK's reforms a success, read this paper.


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