Transparency urged in drug trials
Getting clinical trials results publicly registered and published is important
Sir Iain said a lack of transparency is endangering patients health
A scientist has called for stricter regulations to ensure that pharmaceutical companies do not under-report clinical trials.
Sir Iain Chalmers has said that research undertaken by drugs companies cannot be trusted until they change their practices.
He also reports that doctors are colluding with industry, often seduced by financial rewards.
His article is published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The pharmaceutical industry has, in the past, been accused of selectively publishing the results of clinical trials, allowing unflattering results to remain hidden.
Sir Iain, a former director of the Cochrane Centre, and now editor of the James Lind Library, which documents the evolution of fair tests of medical treatments, said: "The pharmaceutical industry is not making fully available the results of tests of treatment, and in essence is suppressing uncomfortable information that might challenge the sales of their products, and putting people's health at risk."
He said an initial push in the mid-1990s by some companies to increase openness and transparency had failed.
He has called for all drug companies to sign up to the Good Publication Practice Guidelines for Pharmaceutical Companies, which encourage companies to publish all trial results, and to put into place mechanisms to oversee adherence to these guidelines.
He adds that some medical professionals are colluding with industry, because of the financial incentives being offered, in a way that is "not compatible for a doctor to look after their patients".
He said: "Whether industry does anything about this really depends on how seriously they are taking the very bad reputation they have in the public."
Some have called for all clinical trials to be registered with the public, at inception, to avoid any publication bias.
A spokesperson, from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) commenting on the article, said: "Getting clinical trials results publicly registered and published is important and it is for this reason the ABPI took a leading role in framing a global agreement which came into force in January 2005.
"Under this agreement, all clinical trial results - positive and negative - must be published within a year of a medicine being licensed for use in patients and, for studies of existing medicines, within a year of that trial."