World Health Organization launches clinical trial website

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Flag of the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Friday, the launch of a specialized search website, which will facilitate access to "high quality" clinical trial information for health researchers, doctors, and patients.

Accessing clinical trial with multiple source information was reportedly a difficult task, unless the data is reported in the published literature. A significant number of clinical trials, however, are not published. And for trials that are published, not all of the data is reported in some cases.

The WHO's Assistant Director General, Information Evidence and Research, Tim Evans suggests the new WHO clinical trial website will facilitate access to published and unpublished clinical trials through the registration and tracking of the research projects. "For health care researchers, funders, policy-makers and consumers the portal represents an enormous step towards greater access, transparency and accountability of health research globally,” said Evans.

"The registration of clinical trials is a scientific, ethical and moral responsibility," stated the WHO. Clinical trial registers have become accepted widely as common practice. The new WHO webiste provides easy navigation through the large number of registers that currently exist.

Registers providing data to the search portal are required to participate in the new WHO Network of Collaborating Clinical Trial registers. The network will provide a forum for registers to collaborate on procedures for clinical trial registration. Registers are also required to disclose details such as ownership, governance structure, and for-profit status.

Jeff Drazen, Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine supports the portal and is pleased with the ability to find all trials in a particular area of interest. "The onus now lies with all investigators to be sure that their work is fully and meaningfully registered in a WHO compatible database," said Drazen.

Data from approximately 50,000 clinical trials from United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have been made available on the WHO site.