Opening Up Pharma Data in the UK

Trevor Jackson, deputy editor of the BMJ (British Medical Journal), an international peer reviewed medical journal, recently discussed a number of open data initiatives currently underway in the United Kingdom. He begins, "One of the most popular videos on is a mini-lecture by the writer, doctor, and academic Ben Goldacre, called 'What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe' ("

He goes on, "In the video, Goldacre (whose latest book,Bad Pharma, does much to expose the damage caused by withheld and misreported data from clinical trials) says that in drug trials funded by pharmaceutical companies 'positive findings are around twice as likely to be published as negative findings.' Since it was posted two months ago, the video has attracted over 387 000 views. Does this suggest that the public is waking up to one of the biggest scandals in clinical research: that big pharma does not make all the clinical trial data for all drugs in current use available for independent scrutiny?"

Jackson continues, "The past fortnight has seen a number of initiatives that might help to make this moment a tipping point in the United Kingdom. The first came from general practitioner and Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who last week raised in the House of Commons the issue of missing data affecting the medical evidence base (doi:10.1136/bmj.e7306). In response, Norman Lamb, the minister for care services, agreed that access to all data from clinical trials was a 'really important issue.' He committed the government to a meeting with campaigners."

Read more here.

Image: Courtesy Flickr/ RambergMediaImages