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Clinical Trials Fail to Disclose Medical Treatment Risks

Writing PrescriptionDoctors rely on clinical trial data when determining whether to recommend treatments to their patients. Unfortunately, the medical studies often fail to provide a clear picture of the treatment’s effectiveness and potential safety risks.

Not surprisingly, the clinical trials that result in success are the ones that get published and are easy to locate. Meanwhile, studies that reveal safety concerns or prove the treatments to be ineffective are often not reported.

Clinical Trials Often Unregistered and Unpublished

In the most recent study, researchers examined 113 clinical trials approved in Finland in 2007. It found that the clinical trials were often unregistered, unpublished, and discrepant in the reporting of primary outcomes.

As Reuters reports, only 61 percent of the trials appeared in public registries within one month of the trial start date, and just 57 percent were ultimately published. One in five clinical trials failed to define a primary outcome, or establish clear protocols for assessing if the tested treatment had achieved its main goal.

Among the unregistered trials, 55 percent of the results that were published had discrepancies. They included altering a primary outcome after the trial started or lowering the standard for determining whether the treatment met its main objective in the experiment.

The Importance of Clinical Trial Transparency

While the study involved a small sample, its findings reflect a growing problem. Previous research that analyzed reporting from large clinical trials registered on found that 23 percent of the clinical trials failed to report any results.

“Doctors rely on published evidence to guide patient care decisions, while researchers use the published literature to guide which promising areas of inquiry to pursue,” said lead study author Dr. An-Wen Chan of the University of Toronto.

“When research is hidden from view, then this evidence is unavailable to guide patient care or future research,” she told Reuters.

As San Diego injury lawyers, we agree that failing to report the results of pharmaceutical and medical device research can compromise patient safety. Without transparency, it is impossible to make an informed treatment decision.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to dangerous drug or medical device, don’t hesitate to contact our San Diego injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.