Wednesday, June 30, 2004

PhRMA proposes guidelines for publication of negative clinical trial results.

As previously noted, this is generating a lot of interest on the part of the press, NYS Att'y Gen'l Eliot Spitzer, and others. (Kaiser Foundation's web page has a good summary of the various strands of this issue.) Now the drug industry's trade association, PhRMA, has revised its principles on the subject, according a story in today's Wall Street Journal (requires paid subscription). Click for the press release, a backgrounder on clinical trials, and "Principles on Conduct of Clinical Trials and Communication of Clinical Trial Results." The updated voluntary guidelines call for "timely communication of meaningful study results, regardless of the outcome of the study," and apply to clinical trials started after October 2, 2002.

Companies are currently required to publicize the results of trials only in connection with initial applications for marketing permission, but not in the post-marketing phase when drugs are tested for their efficacy in connection with other diseases or in comparison with other drugs. An editorial in today's Washington Post notes that pressure to publish negative results may backfire: "Forcing companies to publish results of all trials, as opposed to the fact of their existence, is more complicated, because a simple government regulation requiring publication of all results of all clinical trials might backfire and wind up discouraging companies from conducting any trials at all. For that reason, Congress -- not the New York courts -- needs to take up this issue again and look at incentives that might persuade companies to conduct more and better clinical trials, even if they aren't commercially advantageous. It should also consider establishing a routine, nationwide system of comparative drug testing, using university and other academic researchers. Any system that leads to the concealment or manipulation of research isn't serving doctors, patients or, in the end, even drug companies very well."
posted by Tom Mayo, 8:47 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter