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January 25, 2019

British universities must improve clinical trial reporting, says House of Commons

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has announced that UK universities could be brought in for questioning if they fail to improve the transparency of their clinical trial procedure.

By Chloe Kent

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has announced that UK universities could be brought in for questioning if they fail to improve the transparency of their clinical trial procedures.

In October 2018, the committee published a report on clinical trials transparency, which highlighted the failings of many universities in this area.

Global campaign group AllTrials, which petitions for all clinical trials to be reported, has supplied the committee with a list of UK universities that are currently running or responsible for clinical trials. It will be monitoring these universities using its online TrialsTracker software, which will track which trials have reported their results, and which have not.

In six months, AllTrials will advise the committee on which universities have made an improvement.

Committee chair Norman Lamb MP said: “Our committee will be returning to this issue in the summer with a follow-up evidence session, so I’m putting all universities and NHS trusts on notice that they will be asked to come before us to explain themselves if they haven’t got their house in order by then.”

UK universities are risking the duplication of clinical trial data

The committee’s stance is reinforced by research published by pressure group TranspariMED. It has revealed that UK universities have failed to publish the results of 1,671 clinical trials. Out of the 27 institutions studied, 19 have failed to upload any of their missing trials over the past two months.

The report states that these trials are in danger of becoming research waste, and that unless the results are posted soon valuable data will be irretrievably lost. It also warns that failing to publish results will lead to duplication of research.

TranspariMED founder Dr Till Bruckner said: “This is deeply unethical, harms patients, wastes public money, and in some cases violates existing laws and regulations. Some universities have begun addressing the problem, but others are still sticking their heads into the sand.

“The government must heed Parliament’s advice and set up a national monitoring system to ensure that all trials report their results, and fine pharmaceutical companies and universities that continue to break the rules. This common-sense solution would enable the NHS to save millions and improve patient care.”

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