In March, students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada formed the Dalhousie AllTrials Student Society to raise awareness about clinical trial transparency.
One of the first things they did was ask a major cancer research society in Canada to join AllTrials. Since then, both the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance and Canadian Cancer Society have joined AllTrials. Dalhousie AllTrials Student Society members have also been sharing the AllTrials video and when we called on Canadians to write to MPs the students encouraged their friends and families to do so too. This is really great to hear!
They sent us their position statement, which highlights why they feel so passionately about the campaign.
The results from thousands of previously conducted clinical trials have not been reported. In Canada, there is no law requiring clinical trials to be registered, or to report their results. As a result, there is the potential for important information about medical drugs and therapies to be left out of reach for Canadian researchers, clinicians, and patients. Researchers need to know about negative results in order to direct their own studies. Clinicians need to know as much as possible about drugs and therapies in order to be confident they are providing the right treatments for their patients. Patients need to be fully informed of the potential risks and benefits of the therapies they consent to. We as a Dalhousie University student society feel that transparency in clinical trials is a critically important issue that needs to be properly addressed by the Canadian government. Through raising awareness about the gaps in Canadian clinical trial legislation, we hope to work toward more transparent Canadian clinical trials, minimizing risk of harms that might be caused by lack of information sharing between clinical trial stakeholders. Further, we think it is particularly important to share information obtained from clinical trials to ensure that clinical trial participants’ contributions are justified by creation of useful and freely available knowledge. As students at a world-class, publically funded research institution that is affiliated with many researchers themselves involved in Canadian clinical trials, we feel that improving openness in clinical trials is a cause that we, as students, can readily support.