Astellas gets on the trial transparency train

Japanese pharma giant Astellas is the latest drugmaker to make its clinical trial data available to outside researchers, increasing its R&D transparency but stopping short of some industry trailblazers.

Astellas said it will grant academics, CROs and competing drugmakers access to anonymized trial data, but only for drugs approved by U.S. or EU regulators, and only those OK'd in 2010 or afterward. The company will employ an independent panel to vet requests for data and ensure they are of scientific merit, handling the process through ClinicalStudyDataRequest.com, the same site used by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Novartis ($NVS) and others.

"Transparency in the conduct of clinical trials is an important issue for the scientific and medical community today," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sef Kurstjens said in a statement. "By making our clinical trial data more widely available, we further its potential to increase understanding of disease and, ultimately, to address the unmet needs of patients around the globe."

By leaving out unapproved projects and failed trials, Astellas falls short of the standard set by Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), GSK and Pfizer ($PFE), companies offering up a wealth of valuable study results to researchers.

But free data from pivotal trials can only be a boon to CROs, especially those that lack sizable vaults of their own. Industry heavyweights like Quintiles ($Q) and Covance ($CVD) trade on the fact that they have terabytes of data from trials in numerous fields, but as more and more study data become available around the globe, small and midsize CROs that can tap pooled trial results may have an easier time competing for partnerships.

- read the statement

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