Síle Lane is a scientist who works as director of international campaigns and policy at Sense about Science, which is a charity organization that endeavors to challenge misrepresentations of science and scientific evidence. She advocates for honesty and transparency in scientific research.

It is reported that much information and data related to clinical trials is deliberately being withheld from the general public.1 The data costs not only money and time, but human lives, too. This means that not all medications that are approved and placed on the market for consumption are safe. The health and wellbeing of the general public relies on decision makers composed of physicians, regulators and researchers. However, the effectiveness of decision-making can be compromised if some decision-makers have access to only 50% of the results of clinical trials. In the 1980s a drug called Lorcainide was tested in clinical trials both in the United States and in Europe. Although the findings indicated that individuals who took the medication during the clinical trial were more likely to die than those who were not given the medication, these results were not published until more than 10 years after the drug had been authorized to go on the market. As a consequence, approximately, 100,000 people died from it. Another case involved Tamiflu, an anti-flu medicine. A government regulator in the United Kingdom recommended that the government should buy the drug, based on findings from clinical trials. The government bought it at about £473 million to prepare for a possible flu pandemic. But investigations and analyses of clinical trials about the same drug by an independent research network known as Cochrane found that it was ineffective.

As a response to this alarming scenario, the European Union has passed, which will go into effect in 2018 in which it will be required that all clinical trials conducted within the Union be registered on public databases even before they begin. This way, interested individuals will be able to follow the trials as they unfold. Within one year after the trial is completed, a summary of its findings will be required to be posted on the database. There are also organizations and movements that are springing up such as AllTrials composed of researchers, patients and other stakeholders demanding that policy makers and sponsors of clinical trials publish the findings before they are destroyed. In 2016, the United Nations released a report asserting that all clinical trials results should be published and available to whoever wants to have access to them. Being informed is being armed with power to make appropriate decisions from a position of authority. Ignorance in such cases is not bliss.

 

 

Sources

Lane, S. (2017). The hidden truth about our prescription medications. Science. IDEAS.TED.COM Accessed from http://ideas.ted.com/the-hidden-truth-about-our-prescription-medications/

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