David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

EU clinical trial rules will ensure Tamiflu scandal won't happen again

Transparency measures for new clinical trials, which were voted through by the European Parliament in Brussels last week, will prohibit companies from suppressing data and putting lives at risk.

This week it was revealed Roche, the drug company behind Tamiflu, withheld vital information on its clinical trials for years. When the data was finally uncovered, it revealed Tamiflu had next to no impact on flu effects like pneumonia.

On hearing about the developments David Martin Scotland’s senior MEP, said:

“The news about Tamiflu highlights just how urgently we need full transparency of clinical trial data. Currently around half of all clinical trials are not published, which is totally unacceptable. That negative results are less likely to be reported than positive results – is accentuated by the Tamiflu case.

“Legislation, passed by the European Parliament last week, will change that by ensuring all trials report a summary of results to a publicly accessible database, as well as the full clinical study reports once a medicine has applied for authorisation.”

The legislation includes the creation of a comprehensive, publicly accessible clinical trials database. All trials in the EU must be registered on the database; a summary of results must be uploaded one year after the end of the trial, and the full clinical study reports must be uploaded if a medicine is submitted for marketing authorisation.

Mr Martin added:

“The current situation can lead to unnecessary or dangerous trials being repeated, and can give a biased picture of the safety and efficacy of the medicines we are prescribed.

‘”Finally patients, doctors and researchers will have access to the results of all clinical trials; positive, negative and inconclusive. That's good for patient safety, good for scientific progress and good for public trust in medicines.

“We have seen from the US, where financial penalties are not enforced, that transparency rules are often disregarded. We do not want the same situation here in Europe. The new law will also support the European Medicines Agency's transparency policy, and help ensure data from old trials is also published.”

The new transparency measures will apply to all future trials; the regulations, including a clear statement Clinical Study Reports, should not be seen as commercially confidential, which will be vital in supporting the European Medicines Agency as they try to publish the data they hold on old trials.

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