A report published by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Access to clinical trial information and the stockpiling of Tamiflu, expressed concern that information is 'routinely withheld from doctors and researchers about the methods and results of clinical trials on treatments currently prescribed in the UK.'
According to the report, the DH spent £424 million stockpiling Tamiflu to treat influenza in a pandemic despite a lack of consensus over its effectiveness, and discussions on the issue were hampered because information about clinical trials was withheld.
The onus for ensuring that all clinical trial data is published should, according to the report, be placed upon the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It recommends: 'The Department and the MHRA should ensure, both prospectively and retrospectively, that clinical trials are registered on an appropriate registry and that the full methods and results of all trials should be available for wider independent scrutiny.'
'This longstanding regulatory and cultural failure impacts on all of medicine, and undermines the ability of clinicians, researchers and patients to make informed decisions about which treatment is best,’ the report summarised.
The Committee took evidence from the Department of Health, the MHRA, NICE, Dr Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma) and Dr Fiona Godlee, (editor-in-Chief of the British Medical Journal). Goldacre and Godlee are key proponents of the the AllTrials campaign, which was set up to highlight the problems in the availability of clinical trial data and which the Royal Statistical Society supports.
Alltrials has published a detailed plan showing how all clinical trials can be registered and all results reported. It recommends that planned clinical trials should be registered before the first participant is recruited and that a summary of results should be publicly available within one year of completion of the trial.