Intended for healthcare professionals


Redacted policy on sharing drug trial data in Europe

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 28 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3561
  1. Trish Groves, head of research,
  2. Wim Weber, European research editor
  1. 1The BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. tgroves{at}

The European Medicines Agency gets cold feet at the last minute

In early April, the drug company AbbVie dropped its lawsuit against the European Medicines Agency (EMA). This lawsuit, along with another case mounted by InterMune, delayed the agency’s plans to release previously hidden clinical trial data about drugs considered for marketing authorisation.1 It also posed such a threat to public health that The BMJ and BMA were jointly granted permission to intervene at the General Court of the European Union.2 3 AbbVie withdrew its case after the agency agreed to allow redaction of some clinical trial information deemed to be commercially sensitive.4 Now, shortly before the EMA’s policy is to be set in stone, we know the extent of that compromise.

Documents shared with participants at a recent EMA workshop suggest that the agency is backtracking both on its principle of public access to clinical trial data “in an analysable format” and its assertion that “in general, clinical trial data cannot be …

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