Trending News Today: Concerns Raised Over Clinical Trials Website

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Recent findings found that the database ClinicalTrials.gov does not require sponsors to disclose costs to patients, reported California Healthline. The site is run by the National Institutes of Health, and is the most comprehensive database open to the public in the United States that lists more than 210,000 clinical studies here and abroad. Despite this, the site has limitations, such as not requiring trial sponsors to disclose charges to patients and not independently vetting the listings. Ethicists and other experts argue that the sites failure to disclose charges by trial sponsors is misleading to consumers, and provides a marketing platform for so-called pay-to-play research. “Most people don’t realize that creeping into that database are some trials whose main goal is to generate profit,” Paul Knoepfler, associate professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, said in the report.

For the second time in 7 years, a panel of medical experts on the US Preventive Services Task Force concluded there is not enough evidence that full-body visual screenings for skin cancer are beneficial enough to patients to recommend them as a preventive service. According to Kaiser Health News, the task force conducted a systematic review of 13 studies in order to examine the ability of screenings to reduce melanoma-caused death, possible harms that result from biopsies, and whether the screening leads to earlier detection of skin cancer. Just as in 2009, the panel issued an ‘I’ rating to the exams, meaning there is insufficient evidence to assess the balance of harms and benefits. The rating has been met with support as well as concern and criticism.

Two new studies suggest that physicians may eventually be able to screen individuals for Alzheimer’s disease using a smell test. In the study, researchers examined people in their 60s and 70s to take the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). According to NPR, the test involves a set of cards that each have a scratch-and-sniff test on it, and feature familiar odors such as cinnamon, chocolate, coffee, and licorice. The findings released at the recent International Alzheimer’s meeting showed that in both studies, those who did poorly on the test were more likely to already have, or go on to develop, thinking and memory problems.