Universities criticised over lack of transparency on clinical trials

By agency reporter
January 29, 2019

The Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, Norman Lamb MP, has written to over forty UK universities to ensure they are complying with clinical trials transparency requirements.

The letters have been written following the Committee’s recent report on clinical trials transparency, which highlighted that many universities appear to have a poor track record in this area.

The Committee noted in the report that falling short on clinical trials transparency through failing to publish clinical trials results “presents risks to human health, contributes to research wastage and means that clinical decisions are made without access to all the available evidence”.

These institutions have been asked to verify that systems are being put in place to ensure that they adhere to current transparency rules and legislation going forward. Most of the institutions the Chair has written to have overdue trials. Others will have trials that will be due soon.

The Committee intends to revisit this issue later this year and may choose to question institutions that have not improved their compliance by that point.

Norman Lamb said: “The Committee applauds the universities that have reacted quickly to the clinical trials transparency problems we identified in October.

“However, it’s deeply disappointing that on the face of it most have failed to respond to the challenge so far. Universities and other trial leaders need to act on this as a matter of urgency.

“Our Committee will be returning to this issue with a follow-up evidence session, so I’m putting all universities 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.”

Rachel Cooper, Director of Transparency International Health Initiative welcomed the move and said: Transparency over clinical trial data is vital to ensure that the benefits and risks of medicines that patients purchase and are prescribed have been properly considered. The public must be able to trust the medical products they are taking are going to improve their health and likewise that public money is being used in the right way.”

“It is worrying that despite constant calls at all levels for more transparency, many universities are still ignoring these obligations. We’re grateful that the UK Parliament continues to take this issue seriously and will be cracking down on those that do not comply with clinical trial transparency.” 

“In the context of Brexit and uncertainty over the future regulation of medicines, UK universities have an added responsibility to ensure that their processes and procedures are robust and followed – where they are not there must be penalties for non-compliance that are enforced. Likewise universities need to promote and incentivise researchers to disclose their results, regardless of what those results may be.”

* Read the report Research integrity: clinical trials transparency here

* Science and Technology Committee https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/science-and-technology-committee/

* Transparency International https://www.transparency.org.uk/

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