Tamiflu: 14 flu seasons and still questions

Reply to Alan Edwards

29 January 2013

Edwards makes some good points about the role of RECs. They are indeed in a powerful position, and could play an important part in the fight against incomplete publication.

However, I think it's a bit more complex than Edwards says. Ethics committees can certainly require a commitment to publish (and on my committee, we already do), but the problem is what RECs can do about it if that commitment is not honoured. At the time a study is approved, there is no way to know whether the commitment will be met.

A system based on whether applicants have published their previous studies would be needed if the system were to be effective. I have previously written a blogpost explaining my thoughts on this in more detail.

It's also worth reading a previous BMJ response from Janet Wisely on this topic.

While it's not a straightforward matter for RECs to police completeness of clinical trial publications, I do actually think the problems are solvable, and am reasonably optimistic that RECs will soon be doing more in this area. Watch this space.

Competing interests: My company provides services to both pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers to help them get their trials published. I am a member of an NHS REC.

Adam Jacobs, Director

Dianthus medical Limited, London, SW19 2RL

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