Saturday, 24 June 2017

The ProfG's need a kick up the backside. Publish trials

Stefaniak JD, Lam TCH, Sim NE, Al-Shahi Salman R, Breen DP. Discontinuation and non-publication of neurodegenerative disease trials: a cross-sectional analysis. Eur J Neurol. 2017. doi: 10.1111/ene.13336. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Trial discontinuation and non-publication represent major sources of research waste in clinical medicine. No previous studies have investigated non-dissemination bias in clinical trials of neurodegenerative diseases.
METHODS: was searched for all randomized, interventional, phase II-IV trials that were registered between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009 and included adults with Alzheimer's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. Publications from these trials were identified by extensive online searching and contact with authors, and multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to identify characteristics associated with trial discontinuation and non-publication.
RESULTS: In all, 362 eligible trials were identified, of which 12% (42/362) were discontinued. 28% (91/320) of completed trials remained unpublished after 5 years. 

Trial discontinuation was independently associated with number of patients (P = 0.015; more likely in trials with ≤100 patients; odds ratio 2.65, 95% confidence interval 1.21-5.78) and phase of trial (P = 0.009; more likely in phase IV than phase III trials; odds ratio 3.90, 95% confidence interval 1.41-10.83). 

Trial non-publication was independently associated with blinding status (P = 0.005; more likely in single-blind than double-blind trials; odds ratio 5.63, 95% confidence interval 1.70-18.71), number of centres (P = 0.010; more likely in single-centre than multi-centre trials; odds ratio 2.49, 95% confidence interval 1.25-4.99), phase of trial (P = 0.041; more likely in phase II than phase IV trials; odds ratio 2.88, 95% confidence interval 1.04-7.93) and sponsor category (P = 0.001; more likely in industry-sponsored than university-sponsored trials; odds ratio 5.05, 95% confidence interval 1.87-13.63).
CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence of non-dissemination bias in randomized trials of interventions for neurodegenerative diseases. Associations with trial discontinuation and non-publication were similar to findings in other diseases. These biases may distort the therapeutic information available to inform clinical practice

Last week we reported a discontinued Cambridge trial, where the results have not been reported yet (Only at least 15 months from termination), we have mentioned the Ely Lilly Trial that has yet to be reported..

This paper has spotted that loads of  trials don't get finished and loads don't reported. I can see that recruiting for trials is a problem, the PROXIMUS is eighteen months late but now fully recruited, the Canbex trail is very late too but almost there

However before having a rant, you've said "kettle and black"...

You are right we have to hold our hands up and say yes we need to give ourselves a bit of a kick or should I say I need to give the Profs a good kicking 

We (you and I ) know, but the rest of the World don't... that the INSPIRE trial has expired, but a failure is no reason not to publish. 

I heard a "a negative trial can tell us as much as a positive trial"...rubbish....negative trials always leave us with two questions.

It may not always tell us about biology but it may tell us that we do some poorly designed or executed trials. If we aspire to negative trials we have lost before we start. 

I have said that many of our good ideas have been killed off because of bad trials. Not popular with the Neuros and Funders of the trials, but I will stick to my guns on this one. 

I have been saying until I am blue in the face, if you don't have a trial that can work, it doesn't matter which drug you try, it won't work. 

Until beta interferon came along we didn't know how to do relapsing trials not it is easy to work out if an agent is active of not. For progressive trials we are not sure if we are using good outcomes or maybe the trials aren't long enough. 

Our idea of cannabinoids controlling nerve loss is supported by more biology that you can shake a stick at, but the trial failed. 

Speaking to one of the investigators this week. 
They said, the placebo arm just did not progress as expected
(if you are in a trial you do better even if you are on placebo) , so if tyou don't get worse in the placebo arm how can you ever find a positive result of stopping people getting worse. 
It took 6 years to learn this lesson. 

Maybe if the trial was loaded with people who could respond and in people who may get worse if they don't get treated, then we would see something

If you have evidence that your disease is worsening in may be easier to get on to trials or to get access to drugs.

So are you monitoring? 

Do you have a 9 hole peg test, do you know your time for a 25m walk. Because to get into trials or to get access to drugs you may have to show that you have documented worsening

Anyway, we need to come clean, the ProfGs needs to put pen to paper, because until they do that we can't give anyone a roasting,

Oh I forgot ProfG the CLARITY extension is also only about 3 years late so still time:-)....Yeah I know the third reviewer;-)

We collect so many metrics, maybe the number of trials reported has to be a good one when deciding who is funded to do more trials. 

People are risking a lot to participate in the studies, they have a right to know what happened. 


  1. Thank you MouseDoctor. In our weak defense the results of INSPIRE have been presented at a number of international meetings, both verbally and as posters. Also the results are posted on and available for all to see. But I agree the study needs to be exposed to the harsh light of peer review, with its accompanying aggravated critique; as should all scientific endeavours. I would prefer constructive suggestions, rather than the roasting you predict as we really did our best, under very difficult circumstances. I have all the data and commit to producing a draft for review within the next several months, by the end of summer. You can hold me to that. Your flogging is appreciated and possibly deserved. Prof G Downunder.

  2. Just a follow-up comment on trial publication; it would be useful to know how many of the published trials were designed, funded, analysed and the draft written by the supporting Pharma, with the clinical authors involved, but not doing the actual first draft pen-to-paper work. In the INSPIRE trial, Pharm did absolutely none of these things. We did it all, in addition to our day-to-day patient-care work; so please cut us just a little slack. No excuse, however.

  3. "designed, funded, analysed and the draft written by the supporting Pharma"

    An example could be useful. Also, one could compare the "success" of a trial with the extend of the authors involvement.

  4. To add to this, I recently saw the story on the unpublished Lemtrada data that as a person with MS I should be told about ... anincrease in autoimmune disorders. Sharing all the data, and not just the successes should be a requirement.


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