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AllTrials (sometimes called All Trials or AllTrials.net) is a project which advocates that clinical research adopt principles of open research. The project summarizes itself as "All trials registered, all results reported": that is, all clinical trials should be listed in a clinical trials registry, and their results should always be shared as open data.
At the center of the organisation is a petition signed by over 63,000 individuals and over 450 organisations (as of February 2014):
Thousands of clinical trials have not reported their results; some have not even been registered.
Information on what was done and what was found in these trials could be lost forever to doctors and researchers, leading to bad treatment decisions, missed opportunities for good medicine, and trials being repeated.
All trials past and present should be registered, and the full methods and the results reported.
We call on governments, regulators and research bodies to implement measures to achieve this.
— Fulltext of AllTrials Petition
A substantial proportion (estimates range from one-third to one-half) of medical research goes unpublished. It has also been shown that negative findings are less likely to be published than positive ones, even in the absence of conflicts of interest.
Much medical research is done by the pharmaceutical industry, which may experience conflicts of interest reporting results which will hurt sales of their products. There is a measurable bias in reporting; studies have shown that published drug studies funded by pharmaceutical companies are much more likely to support the use of the tested drug than studies with other funding. Industry-funded trials are also less likely to be published
If the statistical methods used to analyse the trial are not chosen before the study it started, there is a danger that researchers will intentionally or unintentionally pick the method that gives the results they expect, or which gives the most significant results. This makes the analysis statistically invalid.
Pre-trial registration makes non-publication and changes in analysis methods obvious to medical reviewers. It also enables authors of meta-studies to track down and analyse missing data.
The campaign has been widely covered, and supported, in the academic press. The British Medical Journal and PLOS are founding members. Nature and The Lancet both published supportive articles in January 2014.
There has also been mainstream media coverage.
There has been criticism from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), with senior vice-president Matt Bennett saying that trial data disclosure measures before the European Medicines Agency "could risk patient privacy, lead to fewer clinical trials, and result in fewer new medicines to meet patient needs and improve health.".
AllTrials have published a detailed statement of exactly what they want to see published, which states "The AllTrials campaign is not calling for individual patient data to be made publicly available" [bolding original].
A 2012 editorial published by senior regulators from the European Medicines agency warned that third party reanalysis was neither a guarantee of quality nor of lack of conflict of interest. Noting that pharmaceutical company data analysis of trial results are subject to third party evaluation by regulators, the editorial argued that completely unrestricted access to data could lead to a proliferation of low quality and biased analyses in the absence of suitable safeguards, and that such analyses could have a negative impact on public health analogous to the anti-vaccine movement.
"We do not dispute that financial conflicts of interests (CoIs) may render analyses and conclusions “vulnerable to distortion”. However, surrounding the ongoing debate over sponsor-independent analyses is an implicit assumption that “analysis by independent groups” is somehow free from CoIs. We beg to differ. Personal advancement in academia, confirmation of previously defended positions, or simply raising one's own visibility within the scientific community may be powerful motivators.... We submit that analyses by sponsor-independent scientists are not generated in a CoI-free zone and, more often than not, ego trumps money. Independent analyses may therefore also be “vulnerable to distortion”. We are concerned that unrestricted availability of full datasets may in some cases facilitate the publication of papers containing misleading results, which in turn lead to urgent calls for regulatory action. In a worst case, this would give rise to unfounded health scares with negative public health consequences such as patients refusing vaccinations or discontinuing drug treatment'"
The authors conclude that opening access to trial data should be accompanied by regulations to protect individual privacy, and to ensure the quality of secondary analyses. The authors further suggest that the processes of those undertaking meta analyses should be open to the same public scrutiny as the data itself, potentially including inspections by regulatory agencies.
The campaign is an initiative of Sense About Science, Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, James Lind Alliance, Cochrane Collaboration, BMJ Group, PLOS, and Bad Science. The petition statement of AllTrials has been signed by organizations including Wellcome Trust, British Library, Medical Research Council (UK), British Heart Foundation, Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, BioMed Central, National Physicians Alliance, Royal Society of Medicine, Health Research Authority, American Medical Student Association, GlaxoSmithKline, and others.
In August 2013 there were 55,000 signatories supporting the campaign.
The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have expressed interest in lobbying against the campaign. Campaign supporters criticized Hoffmann-La Roche's plans to be more open but not to the extent requested by AllTrials.
- Clinical data repository
- Monitoring in clinical trials
- Privacy for research participants
- Evidence-based medicine
- Clinical trials publication
- Censoring (clinical trials)
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