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Late published trials

April 3, 2015

Public sector worst offenders

The pharmaceutical industry is often accused of failing to publish their clinical trials; a paper in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine confirms they are sometimes guilty, but far from the worst offenders. Click here for full text, or for those with access problems, rct results reporting.

Among 32,656 trials, registered at, and completed or closed by August 2012, only 13% had reported within one year, and 40% by four.  Commercially funded trials were significantly more timely than those funded by government, academia or charities. Here’s the graph.

trial reporting graph

The researchers also checked if they had a good reason for delay. Nearly half of industry trials (44%) did, compared with only 6% of NIH funded ones and 9% funded by other sources. Overall industry reported 80% of trials on time, or had an acceptable reason for delay, as compared with 50% NIH trials, and 45% for those funded by others.

Even these results are probably biased in favour of the public sector. Industry must register its trials to use the results for licensing.  Trials funded from other sources, often delay registration till publication; check submission and registration dates if you don’t believe me.

Click herehere, here or here for a few egregious examples of late registration or other registry cheating in public sector trials.

Time to stop beating up pharma?

Jim Thornton

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