OpenTrials launches as clinical trials transparency hub
OpenTrials, an open, online database of information about the world’s clinical trials funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation through the Center for Open Science, has launched. The project, which is designed to increase transparency and improve access to research, is directed by Dr. Ben Goldacre, an internationally known leader on clinical transparency, and is being built by Open Knowledge International.
OpenTrials works like a search engine, with advanced search options for filtering results by criteria such as drug and disease area. All data and documents for each trial included are “threaded” together and presented alongside each other.
OpenTrials intends to inform decision-making and lead to better medical services worldwide. A range of potential uses for the platform include:
- A public health researcher could find out more about the range of trials on a drug, searching by various criteria to match a specific population.
- A doctor interested in critical appraisal of research papers could see if sources of bias for specific trials have already been assessed by experts.
- A researcher could see if the same trial reports somewhat different methods or results in different places.
- A patient interested in participating in a trial for their condition could identify trials in their geographical area which are enrolling.
A crowdsourcing functionality allows users to contribute data and documents and to provide feedback on the accuracy of trial information.
OpenTrials currently extracts and displays data from ClinicalTrials.gov, EU CTR, HRA, WHO ICTRP, and PubMed, and risk of bias assessments from the Cochrane Schizophrenia group. After the beta launch, we plan to integrate systematic review data from Epistemonikos and other sources. There are seven additional sources of data that have been extracted, but can’t currently be displayed because of licensing issues; OpenTrials is working with these sources of data to get permission to publish.
“There have been numerous positive statements about the need for greater transparency on information about clinical trials, over many years, but it has been almost impossible to track and audit exactly what is missing, or easily identify discrepancies in information about trials,” explained Dr. Goldacre, the project’s Chief Investigator and a Senior Clinical Research Fellow in the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at the University of Oxford. “This project aims to draw together everything that is known around each clinical trial. The end product will provide valuable information for patients, doctors, researchers, and policymakers—not just on individual trials, but also on how whole sectors, researchers, companies, and funders are performing. It has the potential to show who is failing to share information appropriately, who is doing well, and how standards can be improved.”
“OpenTrials is an important step towards ensuring researchers, journalists, and patient groups have access to the medical information they need,” said Pavel Richter, CEO of Open Knowledge International. “Through the OpenTrials platform, researchers can advance science more quickly, doctors can easily find the latest evidence to improve services, and patients can locate information about pressing public health issues. OpenTrials is a great example of the work we are doing at Open Knowledge International to equip civil society organizations with the tools and information they need to address social problems and improve people’s lives.”
The first phase of the Open Trials project is scheduled for completion in March 2017.