Over the past decade, GlaxoSmithKline has been enmeshed in several controversies with regard to its drugs and how they were promoted. We won’t rehash them here, except to say that one of the overriding concerns was that negative safety data were withheld, and, as a result, patients experienced serious adverse events.
Last week, Glaxo took a bold step to move beyond the scandals of a lack of disclosure and announced that in the future it would make raw data from its clinical trials available to any independent researcher who wants to examine the data. Such transparency is unprecedented in the pharmaceutical industry today, and we’d like to commend Glaxo for providing a mechanism by which investigators can independently analyze the research and draw their own conclusions about the safety and effectiveness of Glaxo’s products.
We’ve talked before about the harm that comes when data are suppressed or distorted. Patients get hurt. By allowing independent researchers to analyze its data, Glaxo is taking the first step toward enabling the unbiased research we need to create solutions for the healthcare problems that we face every day in our lives. Will other pharmaceutical companies follow suit? We hope so. We can’t imagine they will simply ignore Glaxo’s precedent. What do you think?