U.K. House of Commons committee report calls for more transparency on clinical trials

The House of Commons
U.K. House of Commons committee calls for increased transparency following report that half of clinical trials fail to publish results. (U.K. Parliament/CC BY 3.0)

A committee in the U.K.’s House of Commons is calling for increased transparency in the wake of a report it released that said nearly half of clinical trials fail to publish results.

The Science and Technology Committee report “Research Integrity: clinical trials transparency” found that 50% of clinical trials don’t publish any results, which presents a risk to human health as well as creating waste on research.

The committee said it is concerned that selective nonpublication or “publication bias” distorts published evidence base and threatens research integrity.

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“An astounding amount of information from clinical trials is going unreported,” Norman Lamb, chair of the committee, said. “The HRA (Health Research Authority) must act now to ensure current regulations are enforced and impose tough sanctions on those who seem to think it is acceptable to disregard valuable research, threaten research integrity and, in some cases, endanger human life. Many of these trials are funded with public money and the taxpayer has a right to expect those who benefit from public funding to follow the rules and publish in full.”

Since 2014, the HRA has been responsible for promoting research transparency, but the Science and Technology Committee believes improving reporting rates has lagged. The committee is calling for the HRA to draw up a strategy to address the problem.

The committee also cited figures from the National Health Service Trusts that show a high number of unreported clinical trials. For example: the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust had 13 overdue trials, the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had 12 unreported trials, and both the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust have 11 outstanding trials.