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WHO calls for increased transparency in medical research

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WHOThe World Health Organisation (WHO), has issued a public statement calling for the disclosure of results from clinical trials for medical products, whatever the result.

A statement which was copied to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday by Tarik Jasarevic, WHO Communications Officer, it said, the move aimed to ensure that decisions related to the safety and efficacy of vaccines, drugs and medical devices for use by populations are supported by the best available evidence.

“Our intention is to promote the sharing of scientific knowledge in order to advance public health,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation. “It underpins the principal goal of medical research: to serve the betterment of humanity,” he added. Dr Kieny said:

“Failure to publicly disclose trial results engenders misinformation, leading to skewed priorities for both R&D (research and development) and public health interventions. “It creates indirect costs for public and private entities, including patients themselves, who pay for suboptimal or harmful treatments.”

The statement cited a study that analysed reporting from large clinical trials of more than 500 participants registered on clinicaltrials.gov and completed by 2009, of which 23 per cent had no results reported. It said the unreported trials included nearly 300 000 participants; among clinical trials of vaccines against five diseases registered in a variety of databases from 2006-2012, where only 29 per cent had been published in a peer-reviewed journal by the WHO recommended deadline of 24 months following study completion.

“We need the collaboration of all these actors to enforce transparency in their jurisdictions in order to increase the benefits and decrease the risks for patients, clinical trial volunteers and the general public,” Dr Kieny said.

It said, WHO’s call for disclosure includes older unreported clinical trials, the results of which may still have an important bearing on scientific research today. It noted that WHO also reaffirms the need for all clinical trials to be registered on a WHO primary clinical trial registry so that they could be accessible through the International Clinical Trials Registry platform.

It said this would ensure transparency as to which clinical trials had occurred, and allow verification of compliance with public disclosure requirements. It observed that the recent WHO move expanded on a 2005 call for all clinical trials to be registered, and the subsequent establishment of the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform.

It said the registry platform regularly imported trial records from Clinicaltrials.gov, ISRCTN, EU Clinical Trials Register, Australia New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry, Pan African Clinical Trial Registry and Clinical Trial Registries from China, India, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Cuba, Germany, Iran, Japan, Sri Lanka, The Netherlands and Thailand.

Source: GNA

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