WHO calls for universal clinical trial transparency
- Adding to the growing cacophonous demand for transparency, the World Health Organization (WHO) wants clinical trial results for all drugs, vaccines, and medical devices reported.
- The WHO also wants disclosure of older unreported clinical trials.
- The main argument from the WHO is that lack of comprehensive reporting skews priorities for research and public health interventions, while also creating indirect costs for everyone, including patients.
The transparency issue has become a hot topic in recent years. Starting in 2007, when the U.S. enacted a law that makes failure to register clinical trial results illegal, advocates have made the case that not reporting clinical data in a timely fashion could be the difference between life and death. In September 2014, 80,000 individuals and 500 organizations signed the AllTrials petition in the United Kingdom demanding that drug companies put all clinical trial data, both past and present, online. And in Japan, legislators passed a bill similar to the Sunshine Act in the U.S. requiring that drug makers fully disclose all payments to physicians and hospitals.
The overall response to the WHO initiative has been positive, though transparency advocates suggest that strict oversight of implementation of this policy is necessary, with a strong focus on auditing.