Developers of online tool hope that it will improve accountability
A website that highlights companies who have failed to report the results of clinical trials has been set up by researcher and AllTrials campaigner Ben Goldacre, together with data scientists at the University of Oxford, UK.
The TrialsTracker tool aims to tackle the issue of clinical trial outcomes not being published. In the US, trial organisers that do not report their results can be fined by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), but Goldacre and colleagues say there are many cases where authorities haven’t taken action.
It uses publically available data from ClinicalTrials.gov to monitor whether registered trials have submitted their results on time. It scrapes information such as the dates, the names of corporate sponsors and when the results are due for publication, displaying this via a live tracking website.
According to the site there are currently 12 overdue trials – just over 10% of the total number registered on ClinicalTrials.gov. The homepage indicates almost $300,000 in fines could have been imposed by the US government for these overdue trials, but none of these fines have been claimed.
‘In the absence of formal sanctions from the FDA and others, we argue tools such as ours – providing live data on trial reporting – can improve accountability and performance,’ the team behind TrialsTracker wrote in a paper on the preprint server biorxiv. ‘In addition, our service helps sponsors identify their own individual trials that have not yet reported results: we therefore offer positive practical support for sponsors who wish to ensure that all their completed trials have reported.’