Sanofi stops short of baring it all with clinical trial transparency pledge

Pharma giant Sanofi ($SNY) is jumping on the clinical trial transparency bandwagon, agreeing to share data with researchers public and private, but the French drugmaker's plan stops short of the sweeping initiatives favored by some of its rivals.

Starting on Jan. 1, Sanofi followed GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Pfizer ($PFE) by allowing academics, CROs and competing drugmakers to request access to its trial data, but not without a list of caveats. Sanofi said it will only hand over study results for drugs approved by both U.S. and EU regulators, and only those OK'd in 2014 or afterward. Right now, that amounts to exactly zero drugs--and, considering the FDA's issues with Lemtrada, that might be the case for a while.

Like GSK and Pfizer, Sanofi will employ an independent panel to vet requests for data and ensure they are of scientific merit, the company said. Unlike its forebears, though, Sanofi is keeping the lid on failures and early-phase work, and it's almost certainly no coincidence that the company's transparency-light initiative comes amid increasing pressure on the whole industry from European regulators who believe drug companies are too tight-lipped.

Still, 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 mid-size CROs may have an easier time competing for partnerships.

"Finding new therapies can be accelerated by fully sharing the successful and unsuccessful research results with other researchers," Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher said in a statement. "Data sharing helps to reduce duplication and allows researchers to build more effectively on the findings of other researchers. The private sector has taken a lead on this, which I would hope academic researchers will follow."

- read the statement