A new study found that 118 of 400 clinical trials had not reported results four years later in either a journal or on ClinicalTrials.gov. The researchers randomly selected trials that were registered on ClinicalTrials.gov and listed as completed in 2008. They found that trials were equally likely to report results regardless of whether or not they were funded by industry.

This is yet one more study to look at the reporting of clinical trial results. The best available evidence is still that around half of all clinical trials have never been published or reported their results.

Dr Christopher Gill, the study’s lead author and director of Boston University School of Public Health’s Pharmaceuticals Program:

Promoting transparency in clinical trials is an intrinsic public health good.

Individuals who volunteer for clinical trials often do so out of a sense of altruism. I can imagine that many would be dismayed to learn that the results of a study that they participated in, that they took physical risks for, might never generate results known beyond the company that sponsored the trial.

Science learns from mistakes, as well as successes. If we only learn about the scientific success stories, we are really only seeing part of the picture.

Dr Ben Goldacre, co-founder of the AllTrials campaign:

We should never lose sight of how frightening these results are. Many in industry and academia have tried to brush this problem under the carpet: AllTrials is the beginning of that being impossible. Now that the mainstream narrative has shifted, we need concerted, concrete action from patient groups, professional bodies, regulators, policy makers, health services, and individual companies. The entire medical community needs to work together to ensure that the full methods and results of all trials, on all uses, of all currently prescribed treatments are made fully available. Without that, doctors and patients cannot make informed decisions about which treatment is best.