START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
2,268,016 people care about Health Policy

Why are Drug Companies Suddenly Agreeing to More Regulations?

Why are Drug Companies Suddenly Agreeing to More Regulations?
  • 1 of 2

Drug companies in the U.S. and Europe, facing the prospect of EU officials forcing them toward more transparency, have now agreed to share some clinical research data. Does this mean a new era of openness or is this just lip service?

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the U.S.’s Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released a joint set of principles last week outlining a plan to allow greater access to clinical drug trial data so that qualified scientists could, in theory, analyse the results and confirm or refute the drug companies’ claims.

It is believed that less than half of research trial data is currently published, with critics saying the data is withheld so that pharmaceutical companies can overstate the effectiveness of their drugs, downplay side effects and maintain a competitive edge over each other — all at the expense of patients.

So strong are the concerns that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has begun to formulate regulations that would force the companies to publish such data. Many have resisted such interference, as had PhRMA and EFPIA , with PhRMA on record as late as this January formally opposing any wider changes to data publishing.

However, with the publishing of a new set of transparency principles, both companies appear to be at least offering tacit agreement with the EMA initiative. So what are the principles, and what is going on here?

The New Principles PhRMA and EFPIA Have Agreed On

Due to be implemented in January 2014, the Principles for Responsible Clinical Trial Data Sharing: Our Commitment to Patients and Researchers outline that data requests will be allowed under certain conditions.

All such requests will first be referred to review boards established by each company. Those boards may include independent scientists and health care professionals, as well as company officials, to offer a balanced assessment of data requests. However, the individual makeup of each review panel will be set by the companies and there will be no mandate that companies have to include outside reviewers.

Researchers will at the same time have to demonstrate that they have the qualifications to handle the data and that their use of the data will fulfill a legitimate research question, though exactly how that is defined appears quite nebulous at this stage.

Other commitments outlined in the document include an agreement for companies to work more openly with regulators to provide a detailed summary of relevant information for patients who participate in clinical trials. Moreover, companies will also agree to make available to the public summaries of clinical study reports when new medicines are approved by Europe and U.S. regulators.

The principles encourage publication of positive and negative results from what are known as all “phase III” trials, where a prospective treatment is given to large groups of people to confirm its effectiveness and monitor side effects — this even if those results do not provide evidence for the effectiveness of a given drug or show signs of above acceptable side effects.

The principles explicitly state, however, that no data will be shared that could compromise pharmaceutical industry competitiveness. The principles also reserve far reaching powers to protect data that companies deem could compromise patient confidentiality.

Given the wider pharmaceutical industry has resisted attempts to force more transparency in data publishing, why have PhARMA and EFPIA suddenly changed course? And is this really all it seems?

  • 1 of 2

Read more: , , , , ,

Image credit: Thinkstock.

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
8:30PM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

The medical industrial complex sees the writing on the wall. The good times are almost over. We cannot afford to continue paying ever increasing prices for drugs, doctors, hospitals, devices and procedures. The pharmaceutical companies are just joining doctors and hospitals who are facing reality, cutting prices, opening their books for comparisons of costs and effectiveness. The drug companies know they are distrusted by everyone, even doctors, so they are trying to deal with it. The alternative, which is just around the corner, is that governments are going to slash prices on everything and have the FDA and it's European equivalent go back to regulating the hell out of them. Believe it or not, the FDA used to make them wait years to bring a new drug to market after they completed their testing, because they tested it themselves.

Thalidamide, a drug used to treat nausea, was widely prescribed to pregnant women the world over in the 1950s for the treatment of morning sickness, but not in the US, because the FDA was still running animal tests and wouldn't approve it for use in pregnant women. Sure, some doctors prescribed it anyway, but nothing like as often as they did elsewhere. The result? We had far less birth defects than anyone else. We need to go back to a robust, well funded FDA, not one that's been drowned in a bathtub by defunding and lack of authority.

7:06PM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

We'll see!

9:08AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Lin M. - generic is the real thing just hasn't got a Pharmaceutical's worldwide known name on it but all licensed as the real thing.

This generic is another reason why Big Pharmacy wanting to play nicer than in the past ... health systems in many countries including UK, Europe, Developing World have caught up with their profiteering. To keep profiteering they started taking drug manufacturers to court because they making and selling medication without big labels - the publicity of such woke up Health professionals to reality.

4:16AM PDT on Aug 1, 2013

Because they want to be compliant with the law.

10:23PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

You can bet it isn't because Big Pharma CEOs are suddenly taking truth serum. As long as there are obscene profits to be made, they will continue giving us the bitter taste of their own medicine to one extent or another.

6:30PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

As with most research and insight these days, Europe leads the way. Perhaps because their institutions aren't as bought off as those in this nation. Clearly, their people appear more proactive. What then, is Americans excuse?

4:27PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013


3:21PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Ik ben al 22 jaar invalide,weet genoeg van al hun onderzoeken en pillen .Als ze het niet meer zien zitten moeten we geen pijnstillers of andere pillen nemen of zou op de nieren slaan ,gewoon de pijn verdragen zeggen de artsen nu zijn het allemaal witte producten die zoveel kosten als vroeger de echte.

3:02PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Running out of money for lawsuits?

2:20PM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Just about all my meds. are generic......sad but medicare wont pay for the real thing. If you
are poor or old or both, you are not getting the real thing.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

Isn't nature just wonderful! It's a shame mankind has destroyed so much of it.

Instead of burying our heads in the sand we should be making it a requirement that kids take Hunter Safety…

meet our writers

Steve Williams Steve Williams is a passionate supporter of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) rights, human... more
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK


Civil Rights


Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights


Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!