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Clinical trials search tool launch

7th May 2007

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set up a new website which searches for data on clinical trials around the world.

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The site is now available to researchers, health practitioners, consumers, journal editors and reporters; anyone who wishes to access clinical trial results quickly and easily, it said in a statement on its website.

Calling for the registration of all clinical trials before volunteers are even recruited, WHO said it was often difficult for doctors and patients to make sure they had found all trials relevant to a case.

The site, a search engine linking several top clinical trial registers around the world, will make it much easier to pick up on trials which have not been reported in medical literature.

Even when the results of trials are published, WHO said, it is possible that only part of the story is told in the publication.

"Relying on information provided only by published trial research is therefore unreliable and leads to inadequately informed treatment decisions," the WHO statement said.

The Clinical Trial Search Portal, at www.who.int/trialsearch, is a collaborative, international initiative led by WHO that aims to facilitate the identification of all clinical trials, whether or not they have been published, officials said.

They said the only way to ensure the availability of complete and accurate information about clinical trials was for all trials to be registered before any participants were recruited. WHO called the registration of clinical trials a scientific, ethical and moral responsibility.

Tim Evans, assistant director general of information, evidence and research at the WHO, said the portal represented an enormous step towards greater access, transparency and accountability in global health research which would benefit research, funders, policy-makers and consumers alike.

Previously, those wanting to access clinical trial data faced the challenge of navigating their way through the ever increasing number of registers that now exist, and knowing which registers provided information that was accurate and reliable.

WHO hopes to assure quality by bringing together reputable clinical trial registers which have been drawn together in a network at the same time as the website launch to exchange information and establish best practice for clinical trial registration.

"Registers in the network that contribute data to the search portal have agreed to prospectively register trials, are able to collect all 20 items in the WHO Trial Registration Data Set and have mechanisms in place to ensure the optimal quality of the data provided," WHO said.

"They are also required to publicly disclose their ownership, governance structure and for-profit status. Details of registers meeting the required standards are available on the website."

“The WHO search portal is a big step forward to making it possible to search for all relevant trials in a given research area. The onus now lies with all investigators to be sure that their work is fully and meaningfully registered in a WHO compatible database," Jeff Drazen, Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, was quoted as saying on the WHO website.


 

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