The RIAT (restoring invisible and abandoned trials) initiative is launched by BMJ, PLOS and researchers today. It is a call to action to companies and academic funders to publish, or update already published, findings from trials they sponsored. The initiators of RIAT say they will make public all the confidential information they hold about missing and abandoned trials in one year’s time if trial sponsors fail to publish it themselves.

Ben Goldacre, author and co-founder of AllTrials campaign: “We have known about the problem of trial results being routinely withheld since at least 1986, and yet we’ve consistently failed to fix it. This is a stain on the reputation of the medical and academic professions, as much as on industry. Even now, with the growing strength of the AllTrials campaign, there are shrinking huddles of people in companies and professional bodies, desperately trying to pretend that fixing this problem is somehow difficult, or impossible. The RIAT project shows that there are simple pragmatic steps we can take, to publish the trials which have been unethically hidden from doctors and researchers.

“For the sake of patients, we cannot drag our heels any longer. It’s time for the most senior figures in medicine, academia and industry to stand up and show positive leadership on this issue. We need all the results, of all the trials, on all the uses of all the treatments currently being prescribed, to practice medicine as safely and effectively as possible.”

Síle Lane, Sense about Science, co-founder of AllTrials campaign: “This is an important initiative. There have recently been legislative proposals in Europe and the US to increase clinical trial transparency in the future. But historical data are as important, arguably more important, than information from future trials. On the list of missing trials published in the BMJ today are trials for drugs used by millions of us every day. People who make decisions about medicines need to see what was found in those trials. This is what RIAT has been set up to help achieve. We hope clinical trial sponsors sign up to it.”

Richard Stephens, cancer patient and clinical trial participant: “I have entered five research studies as a participant. I did it for several reasons, but the one motive that runs through every one of them is my belief that by taking part in research, I will help other patients in future. For that to happen, the results of the research must be made available. Even if the research isn’t finished or the results aren’t as expected, the data and information are still of value and should be made available. I am very pleased to support this amnesty, and I would ask every researcher and every research funder out there to do all they can to make their results available. Patients become participants to add to knowledge and to eliminate uncertainties. Hiding results, no matter what the reason, isn’t in that spirit at all. This amnesty is the chance to do the right thing. Please do it.”