Clinical trial data are used by patients, doctors and policymakers to make informed choices about the benefits and safety of interventions — while the methods and results of all trials are crucial to the pace and direction of scientific progress. However, there is a large body of evidence that suggests that completed clinical trials are commonly left unreported, and educational institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom — arguably the two biggest regions that breed the bulk of medical innovation — have emerged as one of the key culprits guilty of these violations.
In the United States, Congress passed a law in 2007 requiring trial sponsors — including universities — to post the results of certain clinical trials on clinicaltrials.gov within a year of trial completion, and a decade later in January 2017 the rule was finalized. Since 2017, 40 leading US universities should have posted the results of 450 clinical trials — but over a third (31%) of those results are missing, according to an analysis by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) in partnership with non-profit research advocacy group TranspariMED.
The violators include some of the most active trial sponsors: For example the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which has only reported 77% of due trials, Mayo Clinic (42%), UC San Francisco (37%), New York University (21%), and Columbia University (17%).