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An international registry of drug trials may come to fruition if its proposal meets with approval. The World Health Organization (WHO) is behind the push for the registry to ensure that the public finds out when medications do not work, as well as when they do.
Pressure has been mounting on pharmaceutical companies to fully divulge details of all clinical trials, not just those that support the use of their products. An international database, which would be modeled on registries in the United States and other countries, will be proposed to national health ministers during a meeting this November.
Officials have not yet worked out how to enforce compliance with a global registry, according to Metin Gulmezoglu, a scientist at WHO's special program for research in human production. Currently, the information available from registries is limited because they do not include the results of the trials or details of the drug side effects. Experts argue, however, that knowing the number of trials can help researchers assess the merits of published studies.