The number of clinical trials registered globally increased from 3,294 in 2004, to 23,384 in 2013, according to new research published in BMJ Open. The study looked at clinical trials on the World Health Organisation’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), which contains data from 16 global trial registries. The research analysed global progress in the rates of trial registration since 2004, when the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors said that all clinical trials must be registered to be eligible for publication in their journals.

Key findings of the article include:

  • The number of clinical trials that are registered has increased five-fold since 2004, relative to the number of publications about clinical trial research. More than 20,000 clinical trials are now newly registered every year
  • In most regions, there was a trend toward trials being registered at local clinical trial registries
  • Many trials are still not registered, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where local measures needed to stimulate and enforce registration are not yet in place. These may include legislation, local-language clinical trial registries, and policies by local journal editors, ethics committees, funding organisations, and research organisations
  • In high-income countries, laws and policies that enforce clinical trial registration often focus on trials of medicines and devices. Registration rates for other types of clinical trials (surgical trials, screening trials, diagnostic trials etc) are lower

The authors, Rik Viergever and Keyang Li, write:

“For most of these challenges, effective solutions are available, but there is lack of widespread implementation. National and regional registries around the world and the ICTRP have played a leading role in the implementation of such solutions in the past. It is important that they are supported to address the challenges that remain in the future, so that we can progress further towards the goal of full accessibility to information on all clinical trials’ methods and results.”