My evidence to the Science and Tech Select Committee inquiry on missing trial data

April 26th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, bad science, big pharma | 6 Comments »

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee are currently looking at the problem of clinical trial results being withheld from doctors and patients (partly, the committee says, in response to Bad Pharma, which is heartening). A clear, thoughtful report and policy recommendations from this committee could be an important step towards fixing these problems.

I gave oral evidence this week on a panel with Roche, GSK, and the ABPI (who have previously tried to pretend that all the issues in Bad Pharma were “historic” and “long addressed”). I’ve posted the video below, and I’ve posted my written evidence underneath that. First is my submission addressing the specific questions posed by the Committee, and then my appendix, giving background on the problem of withheld trial results. Read the rest of this entry »

AllTrials campaign launches, please sign and spread!

January 16th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, big pharma, publication bias | 2 Comments »

I am very pleased to announce the launch of a prominent campaign for access to all trial results, which we have launched this week at, with myself, Sense About Science, Sir Iain Chalmers from the James Lind Initiative (previously co-founder of Cochrane), Dr Fiona Godlee (Editor in Chief of the BMJ), and Dr Carl Heneghan (Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford).

The response so far, in a very short period of time, has been phenomenal. We have collected over 7,000 signatures already, simply from tweeting, and several extremely high profile organisations have signed up already, including: Read the rest of this entry »

Questions in Parliament, and a briefing note on missing trials: updated.

October 23rd, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in big pharma, hiding data, publication bias | 4 Comments »

This morning at 11:30, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP will ask questions in parliament about the ongoing scandal of missing trial data. This is widely recognised as a problem by academics and doctors, but governments, regulators, and journalists have neglected the problem, while industry simply denies it. Watch the questions live here or watch it later here.

As an example, we spent £500m stockpiling Tamiflu in the UK, but the company Roche are still withholding vitally important information about the trials on whether it works from Cochrane, the international academic collaboration who make gold standard reviews of evidence for doctors, patients, and governments.

Apparently this morning the Department of Health issued a statement to the Today Programme stating that all data from all trials on all drugs is already available by law. This is not true: but there may have been a communication problem, I am hoping to obtain a copy of this statement, and if you have one, please send it to

Here are two articles from the Times today, on this issue. The first is a comment piece (by me). The second is a news piece about the growing number of doctors and academics speaking out on this issue, including editors of major journals, founders and directors of Cochrane, senior medics and academics, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

Great article in Trials, on why regulators should stop withholding trial info from doctors and patients

October 18th, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma | 5 Comments »

One thing in Bad Pharma has shocked readers more than anything else: the way that vitally important information about trials is withheld from doctors and patients, not just by drug companies, but also by government bodies such NICE and the European Medicines Agency (the body that approves and regulates medicines for the UK).

Read the rest of this entry »

GSK have promised to share all trial data: should we trust them?

October 11th, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in big pharma | 1 Comment »

Briefly: today, several people have asked for my response to this story in the Guardian, celebrating GSK’s promise for more transparency on their trial data. Read the rest of this entry »

The ABPI claims that all the problems in my book are “historical”. This claim is simply untrue.

October 11th, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in big pharma | 21 Comments »

My book Bad Pharma documents serious ongoing problems in the pharmaceutical industry. In particular, I show how vitally important information from clinical trials is still being withheld from doctors and patients, right now, today; and that patients experience avoidable suffering and death as a consequence. There is no nicer way to express that reality, and this ongoing problem of missing data is meticulously documented in the book, because it is widely discussed in the medical literature.

I am very sorry to say that the ABPI, the UK pharmaceutical industry PR group, has now responded, and their only response has been to flatly deny what is plainly and provably true. Here is their press release, Read the rest of this entry »

I did a new talk at TED, on drug companies and hidden data.

September 28th, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, onanism, podcast, publication bias | 10 Comments »

I did a new talk at TED about drug companies hiding the results of clinical trials, it went up today. This is a huge, ongoing problem, and it results in patients suffering and dying unnecessarily. So I’m really pleased that TED were able to give the story a platform. Video after the click:  Read the rest of this entry »

Asking the wrong question: how crap research gets drugs to market

May 7th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in big pharma, numerical context | 26 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 7 May 2011

Some of the biggest problems in medicine don’t get written about, because they’re not about eyecatching things like one patient’s valiant struggle: they’re protected from public scrutiny by a wall of tediousness.

Here is one problem that affects millions of people. What if we had rubbish evidence on whether hundreds of common treatments really work, simply because nobody asked the right research question? A paper published this week looks at how much evidence there was for every one of the new drugs approved by the FDA between 2000 and 2010, at the time they were approved. Read the rest of this entry »

EudraCT, the clinical trials transparency tool held in secret

March 5th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, conflict of interest, publication bias | 17 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 5 March 2011

The European Medicines Agency now regulate the pharmaceutical industry throughout the whole of Europe. In December 2010 Thomas Lonngren stepped down as their executive director. On the 28th of that month he sent a letter telling the EMA management board that he was going to start working as a private consultant to the pharmaceutical industry, in three days time, on 1 January 2011.
Read the rest of this entry »

The year in nonsense

December 17th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, media | 7 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 18 December 2010

It’s been a marvellous year for bullshit. We saw quantitative evidence showing that drug adverts aimed at doctors are routinely factually inaccurate, while pharmaceutical company ghostwriters were the secret hands behind letters to the Times, and a whole series of academic papers. We saw more drug companies and even regulators withholding evidence from doctors and patients that a drug was dangerous – the most important and neglected ethical issue in modern medicine — and that whistleblowers have a rubbish life. Read the rest of this entry »