GlaxoSmithKline opens door on data in bid to aid discovery of medicines

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The British drugs company GlaxoSmithKline is to open up the detailed data from its clinical trials to the scrutiny of scientists in a bid to help the discovery of new medicines and end the suspicions of critics that it has secrets to hide.

In a speech today to the Wellcome Trust in London, the chief executive, Andrew Witty, will say openness to the public and active collaboration with scientists and firms outside GSK are essential to finding new drugs to treat the diseases plaguing the world, from novel antibiotics to cures for malaria and tuberculosis.

He told the Guardian GSK had already done much to advance transparency in clinical research, including publishing a summary of every drug trial – whether a success or not – on its website.

“We’ve done an awful lot around this area but I think it’s still fair to say that not everybody believes that everything is made public. Even things we do all the time we’re criticised for not doing,” he said. “People say we only publish positive trials. No, we publish everything. But the fact that people don’t know or haven’t yet accepted that we have this real commitment to transparency – we’ve got to keep working harder to get that message across.”

GSK will set up an independent board which will assess requests from scientists to look at the anonymised patient data from the trials and grant access on merit through a secure website.

Witty accepted there could be attempts at fishing trips by anti-vaccination groups or critics of GSK drugs such as the antidepressant Seroxat, which was linked a decade ago to increased suicidal feelings in the young, amid accusations that the company had known and hidden the data years earlier.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

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