BBC: Unpublished medical research 'a threat to public health'

3 November, 2018

Extract below. Full text here:


Important information on the efficacy of new drugs and treatments is going unpublished, posing a risk to health, says a report by MPs [UK].

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee says despite repeated warnings, not enough is being done to make sure the results of all clinical trials are reported.

Nearly half of clinical trials go unreported, evidence suggests. []

It means some clinical decisions are made without all the available data.

In some cases, this might endanger human life, says the group of MPs.

They give the example of heart drug lorcainide, which was tested in 1980.

'Publication bias'

The results showed that people who were taking it were more likely to die than those who were not, but those findings were not published until 1993 - long after it was made available to patients in the US.

The committee also heard that "publication bias" may have led to UK public money being wasted, for example when the government's decided to spend £424m to stockpile Tamiflu in response to the H1N1 "swine flu" epidemic in 2009.

Dr Simon Kolstoe, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth and chairman of two ethics committees, told the committee: "Eight out of the 10 trials that were used by the company to show the drug was useful in preventing complications such as pneumonia had never actually been peer-reviewed or published."...


Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Access to Health Research

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: