Ministers answer questions on clinical trials

4th June 2013

Here’s a link to yesterday’s very interesting session on clinical trials in the House of Commons Science and Technology committee with David Willetts MP, Minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord Howe, Minister for Health.

It was great to hear Lord Howe say the UK Government was “squarely signed up to” clinical trial transparency, supports registration of all trials and publishing of trial protocols and summary findings. Lord Howe went on to raise the issue that Government must consider patient confidentiality but conceded there is very little in the data submitted to the MHRA that would be considered commercially or personally confidential.

Pamela Nash MP went on to ask that since everything Lord Howe had been describing was about clinical trial transparency in the future, what about the important data from the past. Lord Howe said the Government was encouraging companies to release historic data and he used the “very energetic” efforts by GSK as an example of how this could be done.

When asked how businesses feel about releasing data, David Willetts suggested companies hadn’t told him of any problems with releasing data on request to other researchers via independent institutions, known as ‘safe havens’.

In response to the two important questions we hoped would be put to the Ministers, Lord Howe confirmed the Government very much supported the amendments MEPs voted in last week. When asked if the UK Government is going to support the EMA in the court cases brought by pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and InterMune, Howe didn’t answer the question directly and instead replied broadly that the Government has always supported EMA’s policy on release of clinical trial information, as the Prime Minister has said that Government is committed to clinical trial transparency.

We’re going to do our best to try and get a proper answer from the Government on this issue and we’ll keep you updated.