The UK body that oversees health research is writing a new strategy on clinical trial transparency and it wants to hear opinions on it.

The Health Research Authority (HRA) says its strategy aims to “make transparency easy, make compliance clear and make information public.” It has opened a public consultation on the strategy and some plans on the steps it will take to do this.  The consultation asks respondents to indicate priorities from among the plans and to point out where we think the HRA should go further.

AllTrials welcomes the plans. The HRA has indicated that it is willing to do what it takes to get all clinical trials registered and results from them reported, including introducing sanctions like exposing researchers’ track records on following the rules and fining rule breakers, if people think that would help. We do. Our priorities include strengthening the enforcement of compliance rules, such that researchers who might not be thinking of complying with their obligations to report are pressed to do so. So we are pleased that the HRA’s consultation paper indicates that sanctions are something they are considering. The consultation offers options here of publishing ranked lists of researchers’ rates; taking researchers’ past records of compliance with transparency rules into consideration in new research approvals; and fining researchers. We think all three of these will be necessary to ensure 100% compliance.

Also important is the HRA’s aim to make it as easy as possible for researchers to comply with the rules by working with many partners involved in research and to become a hub of information on both clinical research and the rules around it. We also support the plans to monitor researcher sponsors’ compliance rates and to share best practices to make it as easy as possible to comply with the rules.

The HRA has written this new strategy is in response to the call to do so from the influential Science and Technology Committee of MPs and needs lots of responses to its consultation to ensure the government sees the strong mandate to ensure progress happens. We all need this to happen to ensure results from research doesn’t go to waste and especially so that the people who volunteered for trials are shown respect. We are eager too to be able to show policy makers in other parts of the world the lead taken by UK bodies like the HRA, to sketch out a pathway towards progress for them. So please if you can read the background to the strategy and plans and complete the survey here

The public consultation ends on 6th September 2019.