Dear Priscilla and Mark
You are making a wonderful contribution in your pledge of $3 billion to medical research.
What you may not know is that you could do three simple things to make sure that none of your contribution goes this way and – even better! – that this waste is reduced. One of them is free and the other two are cheap.
Firstly, (the free one) you could make a statement that you will not fund any researcher who has failed to report the results of their previous research or clinical trials – and ensure they publish what you fund them to do.
Secondly, you can ensure that your review process asks for a full account of the research that has already been conducted on the question. (Studies in the Lancet in 2014 found funders still funding trials that enroll patients without checking whether the trial has already been done by someone else.)
And finally, you could ask your review team to spend the most time looking at whether a study is designed well enough to answer the question. You’d be amazed how many are not: 57% says Yordanov 2015
We know that around half of clinical trials of medicines we use today never reported results. AllTrials is a campaign to change that. Missing trials could not only reveal more avenues for research, they could save lives. The WHO and the UN agree, and they know the problem of waste needs solving too. But what august bodies say will only mean anything when practices in research change. (That is why we are publishing our letter to you.)
Those changes are, we hope you agree, simple to make and an urgent contribution to medical research.
PS We’d love to tell you more, on behalf of thousands of patients, doctors and researchers everywhere.
Contact Síle Lane Slane@senseaboutscience.org