Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials

Clinical trial data for all drugs in current use

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7304 (Published 29 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7304
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. fgodlee{at}bmj.com

Must be made available for independent scrutiny

The drug industry does many good things. It produces medicines that can improve health and save lives. It creates jobs and stimulates economic growth. Sadly it does bad things too. Persistently and systematically over decades it has withheld and misreported data from clinical trials.1 As a result, a whole range of widely used drugs across all fields of medicine have been represented as safer and more effective than they are, endangering people’s lives and wasting public money. Such wilful distortion is scientific misconduct.2 It is not something we can forgive because of the good things drug companies do. As Ben Goldacre says in the introduction to his new book Bad Pharma, “Drug companies around the world have produced some of the most amazing innovations of the past fifty years, saving lives on an epic scale. But that does not allow them to hide data, mislead doctors, and harm patients.”3

Hats off then to GlaxoSmithKline, which announced last month that it would allow access to anonymised patient level data from its clinical trials.4 An independent panel will assess all requests, and the company’s chief executive officer, Andrew Witty, says access will be granted on the basis of …

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