With MPs, funders and regulators on the case, universities’ poor record on transparency is going to have to change, says Till Bruckner.
On 30 October, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee issued its long-expected report on clinical trials transparency. The report notes that even today, around half of all clinical trials in the UK still fail to post their results onto registries.
As official documents go, the report is remarkably candid—the word “disappointed” leaps off the pages again and again. The parliamentarians’ ire may have been heightened by the fact that five years earlier, a similar report from the same committee called for decisive government action, evidently to little effect.
The latest report singles out universities and NHS trusts for particular criticism, citing data from the recently launched EU Clinical Trials Tracker, an online transparency tool. The tracker paints an unflattering picture of academic institutions’ performance. Across Europe, only 11 per cent of university-sponsored trials have posted their results. In contrast, many pharmaceutical companies boast reporting rates of close to 100 per cent.