Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations On the Contrary

Data sharing: let the sunshine in

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 07 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1896
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}

    Data want to be free, but everywhere are under wraps—to the detriment of science

    For an anti-Vietnam musical, Hair has some pretty uplifting songs, none more so than “Let the sunshine in.” Forty years after the words were first sung, they’re finally being taken seriously. Letting the sunshine in has now become the panacea for most modern afflictions—from the scandal of British MPs’ expenses to “climategate.”

    Concerned about the influence of drug and device manufacturers? Obama’s healthcare reform bill compels them to disclose all payments to doctors (BMJ 2010;340:c1648). Such rules had first been proposed in the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which also mandated disclosure of payments to pharmacists, patient advocacy groups, medical schools, and providers of sponsored medical education (great ideas that other countries will want to take up).

    Calls for drug companies and regulators to be more open with research findings are made virtually by the day. We wouldn’t have filled half a BMJ with concerns about Tamiflu (oseltamivir) if the data from crucial studies underpinning clinical recommendations had been published at the time (BMJ 2009;339:b5405). Mystery still swirls unhelpfully around the drug approval processes of the European Medicines Agency and to a lesser extent the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) (BMJ 2010;340:c1578 ). For the moment, the National Institute for …

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