Da­ta sug­gest US, UK uni­ver­si­ties fall woe­ful­ly short on re­port­ing clin­i­cal tri­al re­sults

Clin­i­cal tri­al da­ta are used by pa­tients, doc­tors and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to make in­formed choic­es about the ben­e­fits and safe­ty of in­ter­ven­tions — while the meth­ods and re­sults of all tri­als are cru­cial to the pace and di­rec­tion of sci­en­tif­ic progress. How­ev­er, there is a large body of ev­i­dence that sug­gests that com­plet­ed clin­i­cal tri­als are com­mon­ly left un­re­port­ed, and ed­u­ca­tion­al in­sti­tu­tions in the Unit­ed States and the Unit­ed King­dom — ar­guably the two biggest re­gions that breed the bulk of med­ical in­no­va­tion — have emerged as one of the key cul­prits guilty of these vi­o­la­tions.

In the Unit­ed States, Con­gress passed a law in 2007 re­quir­ing tri­al spon­sors — in­clud­ing uni­ver­si­ties — to post the re­sults of cer­tain clin­i­cal tri­als on clin­i­cal­tri­als.gov with­in a year of tri­al com­ple­tion, and a decade lat­er in Jan­u­ary 2017 the rule was fi­nal­ized. Since 2017, 40 lead­ing US uni­ver­si­ties should have post­ed the re­sults of 450 clin­i­cal tri­als — but over a third (31%) of those re­sults are miss­ing, ac­cord­ing to an analy­sis by Uni­ver­si­ties Al­lied for Es­sen­tial Med­i­cines (UAEM) in part­ner­ship with non-prof­it re­search ad­vo­ca­cy group TranspariMED.

The vi­o­la­tors in­clude some of the most ac­tive tri­al spon­sors: For ex­am­ple the MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter, which has on­ly re­port­ed 77% of due tri­als, Mayo Clin­ic (42%), UC San Fran­cis­co (37%), New York Uni­ver­si­ty (21%), and Co­lum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty (17%).

A sum­ma­ry of re­sults by per­cent­age of each uni­ver­si­ty eval­u­at­ed can be seen be­low:

Source: UAEM, TranspariMED

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Over­all, 140 clin­i­cal tri­als are still miss­ing re­sults and five uni­ver­si­ties are re­spon­si­ble for half of the un­re­port­ed tri­als: Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cis­co (17 tri­als with­out re­sults), Co­lum­bia (15 tri­als), Mayo Clin­ic (13), MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter (12) and Chica­go (8), ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

These trans­paren­cy vi­o­la­tions are con­cern­ing con­sid­er­ing at least half of the valu­able med­i­cines that ex­ist to­day were orig­i­nal­ly de­vel­oped in uni­ver­si­ty labs with tax­pay­er fund­ing, in­clud­ing al­most all vac­cines, many HIV and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis drugs, and even in­sulin, the re­port not­ed. Be­tween 2010 and 2016, every sin­gle one of the 210 FDA-ap­proved med­i­cines can be traced back to fund­ing from the NIH, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the of­fi­cial jour­nal of the Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences.

Mean­while, these trans­paren­cy trans­gres­sions are echoed in the UK. Reg­u­la­tions in Eu­rope are sim­i­lar. Any tri­al of of any med­i­c­i­nal prod­uct con­duct­ed since 2004 in an EU coun­try has al­ready been re­quired to reg­is­ter on the Eu­ro­pean Union Clin­i­cal Tri­als Reg­is­ter (EU­C­TR) and since 2012, spon­sors must en­sure that all reg­is­tered tri­als since 2004 dis­close their re­sults to the EMA with­in 12 months of tri­al com­ple­tion. But the de­lays to the EMA’s soft­ware plat­form pushed the fi­nal date for re­sults post­ing by spon­sors to late De­cem­ber 2016.

Ben Goldacre

In a BMJ study pub­lished in 2018 — led by Ben Goldacre, a best-sell­ing au­thor, med­ical doc­tor and re­searcher who fo­cus­es on un­pack­ing the mis­use of sci­ence and sta­tis­tics in his books Bad Sci­ence and Bad Phar­ma — it was found that in Eu­rope, of the 7274 tri­als where re­sults were due, 49.5% re­port­ed re­sults. Tri­als with a com­mer­cial spon­sor (such as a drug de­vel­op­er) were sub­stan­tial­ly more like­ly to post re­sults than those with a non-com­mer­cial spon­sor (68.1% v 11.0%), the analy­sis sug­gest­ed.

Out of his labs at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford, Goldacre set up an EU Tri­al­sTrack­er to con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tor the re­port­ing of tri­als. As of 10 Jan­u­ary 2019, Goldacre and his team have iden­ti­fied 8,062 reg­is­tered tri­als that are ‘un­am­bigu­ous­ly’ due to re­port re­sults — but re­sults on just over half  (53.6%) have been post­ed to the reg­istry. The da­ta, which sug­gest­ed that UK uni­ver­si­ties were less re­li­able than drug de­vel­op­ers, sparked the in­ter­est of House of Com­mons Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Com­mit­tee. UK uni­ver­si­ties could be brought in front of the com­mit­tee if they fail to im­prove their track record, and the com­mit­tee will ask them to ex­plain them­selves in a fol­low-up ev­i­dence ses­sion if im­prove­ments are not made.

The Fac­tors Dri­ving a Rapid Evo­lu­tion of Gene & Cell Ther­a­py and CAR-T Clin­i­cal Re­search in APAC

APAC is the fastest growing region globally for cell & gene therapy trials representing more than a third of all cell & gene studies globally, with China leading in the region. 

APAC is the leading location globally for CAR-T trials with China attracting ~60% of all CAR-T trials globally between 2015-2022. The number of CAR-T trials initiated by Western companies has rapidly increased in recent years (current CAGR of about 60%), with multiple targets being explored including CD19, CD20, CD22, BCMA, CD30, CD123, CD33, CD38, and CD138.

The End­points 11; blue­bird's $3M gene ther­a­py; Bio­gen tout new neu­ro da­ta; Harsh re­views for can­cer drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Reading about John Carroll’s pick of biotech’s most promising startups has become a treasured tradition. If you ever get curious about previous classes of the Endpoints 11, you can find all of them (plus a number of our other regular specials) here.

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EMA warns of short­ages of two Boehringer heart drugs due to a spike in de­mand

The EMA is putting EU member states on alert over the shortage of two drugs that counter heart attacks due to an uptick in demand.

On Friday, the EMA sent out a warning that two Boehringer Ingelheim drugs are experiencing a shortage: Actilyse and Metalyse. The drugs are used as emergency treatments for adults experiencing acute myocardial infarction, or a heart attack, by dissolving blood clots that have formed in the blood vessels.

The End­points 11: The top pri­vate biotechs in pur­suit of new drugs. Push­ing the en­ve­lope with pow­er­ful new tech­nolo­gies

Right around the beginning of the year, we got a close-up look at what happens after a boom ripples through biotech. The crash of life sciences stocks in Q1 was heard around the world.

In the months since, we’ve seen the natural Darwinian down cycle take effect. Reverse mergers made a comeback, with more burned out shells to go public at a time IPOs and road shows are out of favor. And no doubt some of the more recent arrivals on the investing side of the business are finding greener pastures.

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As­traZeneca, Mer­ck cull one Lyn­parza in­di­ca­tion in heav­i­ly pre­treat­ed ovar­i­an can­cer pa­tients

Just one day after blockbuster Lynparza got access to another indication in China, its Big Pharma owners have decided to withdraw it in certain patients after reviewing Phase III data.

The two companies that work together on Lynparza decided to recall one of the indications several weeks ago in a specific type of ovarian cancer, Lynparza’s first indication when it was first FDA-approved in 2014. Initial data showed that rates of overall survival in patients with at least three rounds of chemo before getting on the PARP inhibitor were lower than in patients with less previous chemo treatment.

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Mene Pangalos (AstraZeneca via YouTube)

As­traZeneca shuts the PhI­II door for Ion­is' PC­SK9 drug de­spite pos­i­tive PhI­Ib

When Ionis and AstraZeneca unveiled the first round of mid-stage data for their antisense PCSK9 drug, Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s EVP of biopharmaceuticals R&D, underscored the drug’s “potential best-in-class efficacy profile.”

But now that the second batch is in, it appears AZD8233 isn’t hitting the mark after all.

Ionis announced Friday morning that although the candidate, also dubbed ION449, met the primary endpoint in the Phase IIb SOLANO trial, its partners at AstraZeneca have decided not to move it into Phase III studies because the “results did not achieve pre-specified efficacy criteria.”

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Up­dat­ed: Bio­gen throws it­self back in­to mud­dled da­ta ar­gu­ments with more de­tails on its an­ti­sense ALS drug

With a highly watched FDA decision deadline coming in late January, Biogen and Ionis dropped the full data on the Phase III study of their ALS drug tofersen in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

Biogen is looking for approval for tofersen in a very small subset of ALS patients — some 2%, according to the paper — who have a SOD1 gene mutation, which has previously been linked to ALS. Tofersen is meant to reduce levels of mutant SOD1 proteins.

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Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues CD­MO ex­pan­sion, break­ing ground on $435M UK site

Fujifilm’s CDMO arm, Fujifilm Diosynth, has been on a roll this month as the company has recently broken ground on a major project in Europe and it appears to be keeping up the momentum.

Fujifilm Diosynth announced that it has kicked off an expansion project for its microbial manufacturing facility at its campus in the town of Billingham, UK, in the northeast of England.

The 20,000 square-foot, £400 million ($435 million) expansion will add clean rooms, purification suites and a packing area along with more space for the manufacturing itself.

An­oth­er Cipla site lands a Form 483 over clean­ing is­sues and QC con­trols

A Cipla drug manufacturing site in India has once again landed in the crosshairs of FDA inspectors.

The facility in question is Cipla’s drug manufacturing facility in the village of Verna, in the state of Goa in India’s southwest. In a sign that foreign inspections might ramp up again, the FDA’s visit from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22 uncovered six observations.

The 11-page report noted that environmental monitoring at the site did not properly ensure that microbial contaminants were not making any impact in the aseptic filling areas. It also found that procedures meant to stop microbial contamination were not adequately conducted in aseptic areas of the facility.

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