The Course of Reason

All Clinical Trials Targeted by AllTrials

May 30, 2013

AllTrials logoI was alerted recently to the existence of something rather fantastic: a campaign has started that advocates that all clinical trials be documented and available. Currently, a great deal of research on pharmaceuticals is hidden or never released which obviously leads information about some of our medications to be skewed or simply incorrect. Companies tend to hide the information that casts a negative light on their product. We also don’t know how many trials a given company might run, so while a product might fail or show negative side effects 30 out of 40 times, we may only be given access to the 10 positive trials. This is a serious misleading of the public and it’s not only unethical but also dangerous.

Legislation to require more transparency surrounding clinical trials recently went to a vote before the European Parliament and, unfortunately, it did not pass. This issue is important for anyone who has had to take or who will have to take medication in their lives (hint: this means everyone). Oddly enough, it’s rarely talked about. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of this effort until yesterday and I spend a fair amount of time on skeptical and scientific based sites, as well as mental health arenas. Very few people are aware of how much pharmaceutical companies are allowed to hide and how little evidence is available for many medications and treatments. There have been a great number of scandals with recalled medicines or with damaging side effects that were discovered after a medication went to market (Vioxx for example, which evidence suggests would not have gone to market if these transparency standards had been in place at the time).

As consumers who are relying on the healthcare industry to give us sound and accurate information so that we can manage our health in the best possible way, it is not only highly unethical for companies to withhold information, but it’s also simply bad for the economy and the community. Promoting drugs that have serious side effects leads to further health care spending to curb those side effects, and decreases people’s abilities to work and enjoy their lives. If the things that are supposed to make us healthy are damaging us, we’re fairly crippled in all areas. This is one of the places in which the free spread of information is not only important but necessary. 

For those who live in Europe and who can get in touch with their representatives, please contact them and let them know how important this issue is to you. As freethinkers, we need to promote the free flow of information so that everyone has access to the facts and can make informed decisions. For those in other places, this is an international effort. Sign the petition, contact elected officials to let them know that you want this to be brought up, or start organizing in your community. There’s a lot of work to be done improving health care systems across the world, and while it may be incredibly difficult to find funding to give everyone adequate healthcare, what is easy is ensuring that the standards we have for healthcare are based on the most accurate information possible. There is little standing in the way of this legislation in terms of practicality, funding, or ethics, and the only thing standing in the way is the campaigns of big pharma.



About the Author: Olivia James

Olivia James's photo

Olivia James is a recent graduate from St. Olaf College who is now navigating the post-college pre-grad school waters. She was a philosophy and religion major and was a member of St. Olaf's SSA. She is also an avid swing dancer, voracious reader, and all around nutjob. 


#1 William Weyer (Guest) on Monday June 03, 2013 at 2:57pm

Thank you Olivia, I have signed the AllTrials petition in part because I will be graduating next month in biotechnology and may be working for a pharmaceutical company. I have been concerned about the scientific processes being corrupted by the lack of transparency in clinical trials, public safety, and how it affects the public confidence in science and medicine. Everyone should have access to all trials past and present to make informed decisions and promote good competent science. "Currently, a great deal of research on pharmaceuticals is hidden or never released which obviously leads information about some of our medications to be skewed or simply incorrect. Thousands of clinical trials have not reported their results; some have not even been registered. All trials past and present should be registered." - From alltrials website.




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