Following is the full text of Sile Lane’s talk titled “The Hidden Side of Clinical Trials” at TEDxMadrid conference.
What I’m about to tell you will shock you. It shocked me the first time I heard about it and frankly it still shocks me.
When you go to a doctor and they prescribe you a medicine you presume it’s been tested and we know everything there is to know about whether it works, right?
Well guess what. A lot of the time that’s just not the case. And this is because around half of the clinical trials that have been carried out on medicines that we use today have never published results.
So we don’t know what was found out about our medicines in around half of the biggest trials that have happened on them.
Clinical trials are those big tests where some people are given a new medicine and some other people are given a different medicine or no medicine at all to test whether the new medicine works and to see if it’s safe.
The results from those trials are then used by governments who have to decide whether to pay for the medicine. By regulators, who decide whether to allow the medicine to be sold. By doctors, deciding which medicine to give to their patients. By researchers, deciding whether to do more research on that medicine.
So if the results from half of these tests are missing, it means that these decision makers lack a huge amount of the information they need to make good decisions.
It means that doctors have no way of knowing for sure that the medicines they’re giving their patients are the best medicines and that they’re not in fact doing harm.