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Many clinical trials are never published and effectively disappear without trace, leaving doctors, patients, and policy makers with incomplete evidence on which to base their decisions.decisions. Registering trials on publicly available databases is one solution, and in 2005 the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors decided to make public registration a condition of publication in peer reviewed journals. Since then, entries on ClinicalTrials.gov, the world's largest register, have soared from an average of 30 new trials a week to more than 200. The records have also improved in quality and completeness, writes a team from the US National Library of Medicine, which is responsible for ClinicalTrials.gov. Drug companies are no longer coy about naming the compound under study, for example. Until recently, about one in 10 industry sponsored trials on the register referred only to “an investigational drug.”
Public registers contain lots of useful information, but as yet there is no imperative for researchers to record their results. Unpublished findings still disappear or languish without external scrutiny on drug company databases, says the article. Finding a way to register results that are accurate, trustworthy, and accessible to the public won't be easy, but it's the next logical step.