WHO calls for easy linking of bibliographic databases to trial registries

The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its position on the disclosure of clinical trial data. Having advocated greater use of registries back in 2005, the WHO now wants to see the establishment of a more integrated IT system that includes data from new and old clinical trials.

In a statement on the public disclosure of clinical trial results, the WHO called for research sponsors to make more of their data publicly available. The WHO's vision goes beyond the various trial transparency models adopted by drugmakers to date, notably by pushing for the publication of results from old studies. Transparency advocates such as pressure group AllTrials have consistently cited the exclusion of results from old clinical trials as a major weakness in Big Pharma data disclosure initiatives.

The WHO also wants to ensure the data is accessible and integrated with other resources. As such, the health body has stated trial identifiers or registry codes must be used whenever information about a study is published. By including this detail in the abstracts posted on PubMed and other bibliographic search databases, it becomes easier to link results to the related registry record. The WHO wants PubMed to facilitate such linking by including the trial ID in the abstract of each clinical study report.

The WHO statement marks another jump forward for the trial transparency movement, which has yet to gain any traction when the public health body first weighed in on the need for registries in 2005. Since then, ClinicalTrials.gov and EudraCT have both taken off and the clamor for greater disclosure of clinical trial data has intensified on both sides of the Atlantic.

- read the statement
- here's WHO's explanation
- and Ben Goldacre's response