HealthWatch has responded to the Government's consultation on research integrity with a practical proposal to address the issue of incomplete and inaccurate reporting of clinical trials.
The proposal, submitted jointly with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines UK, TranspariMED, and Dr Simon Kolstoe, calls for a national clinical trial audit system that would substantially strengthen research integrity by monitoring the registration, summary results posting and academic publication of every trial conducted in the UK. It refers to a pilot trial of such a scheme that was conducted over 2010–11 at the University of Portsmouth by Simon Kolstoe, senior lecturer in research design and ethics there. The pilot used documents already held by research ethics committees to monitor retrospectively whether trials have been registered, post summary results within 12 months, and publish accurate results. It found that such an audit was effective and could be implemented at minimal cost.
The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's Inquiry into Research Integrity was launched initially in January this year to look at trends and developments in fraud, misconduct and mistakes in research and the publication of research results, and the so-called 'crisis in reproducibility' of research. It had begun to take evidence but was closed on trhe dissolution of parliament for the general election, and there were fears that valuable evidence already submitted might not be heard (see Spring/Summer 2017 issue of the HealthWatch Newsletter, p3). The inquiry was re-opened on 13th September and closed on 5th October with nearly 100 submissions received from experts and concerned groups.
Written submissions from HealthWatch and by other parties will soon be accessible online at the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's webpage for the Research Integrity Inquiry.
The submission of which HealthWatch was a joint signatory was prepared by Dr Till Bruckner, of TranspariMED, a UK-based initiative that develops and promotes policy solutions to the problem of evidence distortion in medical research.