Support for AllTrials in Germany

15th November 2013

This is a guest post by Dr. med. Dieter Lehmkuhl, an AllTrials supporter based in Berlin.

At present, there are a number of German based groups and organisations supporting AllTrials. Most noteworthy are The Drug Commission of the German Medical Association and IQWiG, the German equivalent to UK‘s NICE. Additionally there are ten or so other medical and patient groups supporting the campaign. In May 2013 the German Doctors’ Parliament (Deutscher Ärztetag) adopted a similar resolution in support of AllTrials.

In September 2012 Berlin’s oldest hospital, Charite, convened a meeting of scientists, medical organisations, and other interested groups. This included representatives from evidence based medicine and public health, the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International, the Charite Universitätsmedizin, the Berlin Medical Association and the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association. The meeting resulted in the Berlin Declaration 2012: “to the citizens of Europe: Stop the Concealment of Clinical Trials”. The declaration, addressed to members of the European Parliament, the EU Directorate General for Health & Consumers and to The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is “a call for action and a petition to restore the integrity of scientific publishing, evidence based medicine and decision finding in Public Health.” It is basically identical to what AllTrials calls for and so far has been signed by over 3000 individuals.

Of the German organisations who have not yet joined AllTrials, the national consumer’s organisation is one which may support its aims. Interestingly, in contrast to the UK, most of the medical specialist organisations have yet to support the campaign – it doesn’t seem to be an issue for them (yet).

There are a number of reasons why this may be the case – they include that the AllTrials campaign is largely UK based (although this is changing), that it is organised and coordinated professionally, having been initiated by respectable and renowned organisations, and that its networks seem to reach out predominantly to the Anglo-Saxon world. And crucially, the AllTrials campaign is driven by people who have made it their issue and are passionate about its success. This drive, coordination and commitment is lacking in Germany.

Another reason may be that we live in a more and more globalised world where many challenges have to be addressed beyond a national level; however, the perspective, networks and organisational structure of civil society organisations and public interest groups often do not yet reflect and act enough on the need for cooperation on a wider international level. Most of the pharmaceutical companies however are global players.

Nevertheless, AllTrials is doing a terrific job, and its outreach has reached far beyond national borders. I hope and am confident this campaign will make a difference.