Drug Firms Are ‘Risking Lives By Hiding Bad Trials and Side Effects of Their Medicines’_Featured_, Big Pharma Saturday, October 27th, 2012
Calls for companies to be made to publish the results of all its trials
Drug companies are deliberately withholding the results of adverse clinical trials – putting patients at risk, an MP warned yesterday.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, a Tory backbencher, said pharmaceutical companies were burying bad news about the effectiveness and side effects of their medicines.
She is backing a campaign for a change in the law to force drugs firms to publish the details of all trials – good or bad.
The family doctor said such a move would save the NHS millions, because at the moment taxpayers fund medicines which may not be as effective as they claim.
Yesterday Dr Wollaston told MPs: ‘Missing data from clinical trials distorts the evidence and prevents patients and their doctors from making informed decisions about treatment.’
Norman Lamb, the care minister, agreed to meet campaigners to see what more could be done to promote transparency.
Earlier, Dr Wollaston told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the previous government had spent £500million stockpiling Tamiflu despite companies ‘holding back’ full clinical study reports about the drug’s effectiveness.
‘You have to ask yourself why is that being held back,’ she said. ‘This is hugely important. And it’s not just about wasting money. This very much matters.’
She called for all historic data to be published, adding it was ‘vitally important’ for patient safety.
‘This really is a current issue,’ she said. ‘It affects patient safety and it’s wasting millions. If we could see a release of all the historic data…I think we would have a completely different evidence base for medicine. I think it’s vitally important for patient safety.’
Her campaign is supported by senior figures at the Royal College of GPs, the British Medical Journal, the Lancet and the Cochrane Library, which holds the largest collection of reports on clinical trials.
Other drugs for which campaigners say full information has not been made available include weight loss drugs orlistat and rimonabant.
Critics of the system estimate that around half of all clinical trials are never published in academic journals – and that trials with positive results are twice as likely to be published.
Yesterday in the Commons, Lib Dem care minister Norman Lamb told Dr Wollaston: ‘The Government support transparency in publishing results of clinical trials, and they recognise that more can, and should, be done.
‘Greater transparency can only serve to further public confidence in the safety of medicines. I am happy for my noble Friend Lord Howe or me to meet her and experts to discuss this important issue further.’