On the one hand, some companies such as GSK and Roche are putting a lot of work into making a change to culture and practice that would see transparency become the global norm in drug trials. On the other hand, there are other companies suing the European Medicines Agency to prevent release of clinical trial information. One of those companies, AbbVie, has just argued that information about adverse effects of drugs “is confidential commercial information because if released other companies could use it to help them get products approved.” Watch Neal Parker of AbbVie say this at a meeting hosted by EFPIA, the European pharmaceutical industry body, in Brussels:

The Head of the Dutch medicines evaluation board asked Parker in response “You think that adverse events are commercially sensitive information? … You are aware that you are working in the healthcare industry, with patients and human beings?”

Hans Georg Eichler, the EMA’s senior medical officer, said “I have been a regulator for many years and I am totally flabbergasted.”

AbbVie representative Neal Parker went on to say that AbbVie will release information on adverse events to researchers who request it and who promise not to share it with competitors, on a case by case basis. This is what other companies do too. Other companies are not claiming that this is commercially confidential information.

If the views of those like AbbVie prevail and information from drug trials is kept behind closed doors doctors won’t know it, researchers won’t know it and patients will suffer. Sign the petition calling for all clinical trials to be registered and results reported and help us by donating to the AllTrials campaign.