“When you go to a doctor and they prescribe you a medicine, you presume it’s been tested, and we know everything we need to know whether it works. Well, guess what. A lot of the time, that’s just not the case.”
Patients, doctors, scientists, government representatives don’t know what has been found out in almost a half of the clinical trials that have been carried on medicines set out for general consumption. As a consequence, doctors prescribe drugs and governments pay for certain medical procedures, without knowing for sure if they serve patients or if they are in fact harmful.
Dr. Sile Lane talks about the drug Lorcinide and how, despite the fact that people taking this medicine were more likely to die during the trial, the results were published only ten years after the study has ended. More than a 100’000 people died as a result. Likewise, not being aware of the inefficacity of the medicine "Tamif..", the UK government spent 480 million pounds to make this drug available for the population.
Dr. Sile Lane explains also the current extremely intricated procedure one must undertake to find out what clinical trials have happened and what were the results. She also talks about the “culture of secrecy” that became the norm in this field.
According to USA laws, the results of a clinical trials must be published within a year after the completion of the study. However, this provision is systematically overlooked without any consequences. Even worse, Europe doesn’t even have such a law. After numerous lobby campaign, the European Union agreed to enforce it starting 2018.
As a possible solution, Dr. Lane presents the AllTrials project, which aims to get all the past and present clinical trials to be registered and their full methods and summary results reported. Started in 2013, the project already has numerous supporters and determined many organizations and companies to revise their code of conduct and put in place measures to grant access to the clinical trial information.
Dr. Sile Lane oversees Sense about Science’s campaigns and works with patient groups, civic society organisations and medical research charities to promote the tools of scientific thinking and challenge misleading claims. Before this she was a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College London working on stem cells and regenerative medicine.