Around half of the clinical trials done on medicines we use today are not published. A tragic truth that needs to be changed, to help doctors do their job properly and to not betray the trust of all those who have volunteered to be part of those trials.
Thousands of clinical trials have not reported their results; some have not even been registered. Information on what was done and what was found in these trials could be lost forever to doctors and researchers, leading to bad treatment decisions, missed opportunities for good medicine, and trials being repeated. The contributions of the hundreds of thousands of patients who took part in those trials remain unused and unusable.
The results of a 1980 clinical trial on heart drug Lorcainide were not published until a decade later. Doctors didn’t know that more people died in the trial who were given Lorcainide than who were taking the placebo. It has been estimated that over 100,000 people died avoidably because they were prescribed drugs in the same class. Read about how the researchers were able to get the results of the study published.
Dr Ben Goldacre prescribed the antidepressant Reboxetine for a patient but says he was “misled.” Results from trials which showed it was worse than other drugs were withheld, while the smaller number of trials which showed it worked better were published.
The UK Government has spent £424 million stockpiling Tamiflu, an anti-flu treatment, but we still don’t know if this treatment works any better than placebo. Regulators weren’t given information from all the clinical trials done on Tamiflu. The manufacturers of Tamiflu didn’t break any laws by withholding the information.