ed clinical trials. A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop provided a summary of the major initiatives by DHHS, the pharmaceutical industry, international medical journal editors, and the World Health Organization (WHO) (IOM, 2006). The requirement in the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 (FDAMA) that the federal government develop a way to register clinical trials of drugs intended to treat serious or life-threatening diseases led to the creation of ClinicalTrials.gov in the National Library of Medicine. Section 113 of FDAMA specifically requires companies to register a trial conducted under an investigational NDA if it is for a drug to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition and is a trial to test effectiveness (42 U.S.C. 282(j)(3)(A)). The trial must be registered no later than 21 days after enrollment is opened. Companies can register nonrequired trials in the databank as well. As of July 1, 2006, more than 30,000 trials have been registered on the site. PhRMA encourages its members to do so voluntarily for all hypothesis-testing20 studies required for the condition being studied.

This registry, which in recent years has won broad acceptance by industry, requires the completion of 20 data fields, developed by the WHO as a “minimum required dataset” for full registration, and provides regularly updated information about federally and privately supported clinical research in human volunteers. The minimum required dataset provides information about a trial’s purpose and the therapeutic agent being tested, its primary and secondary hypotheses and prespecified endpoint(s), who may participate, locations, and contact information for more details. It does not, however, include the results of the trials, nor does the registry program have the resources to do so.

In 2002, pharmaceutical companies that are members of PhRMA committed to voluntary disclosure of the results of hypothesis-testing clinical trials for marketed and investigational drugs; and in 2004, PhRMA launched the Web site ClinicalStudyResults.org for this purpose. A review of the site shows great variability in the ease of accessibility and completeness of the information. In addition, in the past few years many drug sponsors have created their own “registries” on company Web sites, which list their clinical trials, and may list summaries of trial results. These voluntary commitments may signify good intentions for increasing transparency, but the history leading to their introduction may, on the other hand, suggest that they may rather represent efforts to avoid mandatory disclosure of results.


“Also known as “confirmatory” clinical studies, hypothesis-testing studies are always well-controlled and are intended to provide meaningful results by examining pre-stated questions (i.e., hypotheses) using predefined statistically valid plans for data analysis, thereby allowing firm conclusions to be drawn to support product claims. Hypothesis-testing studies may occur at any stage of drug development and include all phase III studies, some earlier-phase studies, and many studies of marketed products” (Clinicalstudyresults.org, 2006).

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