Article in the Independent
Experts criticised the stranglehold exerted by multinational companies over clinical trials, which has led to biased results, under-reporting of negative findings and selective publication driven by the market, which was worth £10.1bn in the UK in 2006, amounting to 11 per cent of total NHS costs.
Extract from the article:
"Peter Littlejohns, the clinical and public health director of Nice, said: "The regulatory authorities have access to everything. Obviously we have access to the published data and we do ask the industry for unpublished data, but it is up to the companies whether to deliver it or not. We have no power to demand it. The issue is that it relies on the good will of the industry."
Professor Mike Clarke, the director of the UK Cochrane Centre, an international collaboration between researchers in 100 countries which has published more than 3,000 systematic reviews of published trials to establish best medical practice, said lack of co-operation from the drug industry was damaging medical care.
"When we ask for details of a trial the company might tell us nothing. We have even less power than Nice. Researchers trying to make sense of trials for decision-makers need to have access to this data. If we have only got access to half of the data, when we see evidence that a drug works we don't know whether to believe it or not.
"It makes us doubtful – that's the big worry. The companies are in the business of making profits – but they are also in the business of providing safe, effective health care."
Legislation to compel the drug industry to publish its results was included in Labour's manifesto at the 2005 election and last month the Commons Health Select Committee demanded that Nice be given unfettered access to all clinical trial results.
Yesterday, the Government said it had been told that compelling the industry to publish trial data would not be allowed and it was instead pursuing a voluntary approach, developing a "searchable register" of all trials that have taken place in the UK and pressing the EU to make its own confidential register public.A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The Government has consistently supported open access to information about research when the findings could affect decisions about treatment or health outcomes. We planned to support the principle of mandatory registration of clinical trials in the UK, but legal advice stated this would be illegal under EU law."
So it's the EU that's blocking the mandatory registration of clinical trials in the UK?
Avoid prescription drugs if you possibly can. They do far more harm than good and clearly the information provided by the pharmaceutical companies cannot be trusted.
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