Non-publication of clinical trials results is an ongoing issue. In 2016 the US government updated the results reporting requirements to ClinicalTrials.gov for trials covered under the FDA Amendments Act 2007. We set out to develop and deliver an online tool which publicly monitors compliance with these reporting requirements, facilitates open public audit, and promotes accountability.
We conducted a review of the relevant legislation to extract the requirements on reporting results. Specific areas of the statutes were operationalized in code based on the results of our policy review, publicly available data from ClinicalTrials.gov, and communications with ClinicalTrials.gov staff. We developed methods to identify trials required to report results, using publicly available registry data; to incorporate additional relevant information such as key dates and trial sponsors; and to determine when each trial became due. This data was then used to construct a live tracking website.
There were a number of administrative and technical hurdles to successful operationalization of our tracker. Decisions and assumptions related to overcoming these issues are detailed along with clarifications directly from ClinicalTrials.gov. The FDAAA TrialsTracker was successfully launched in February 2018 and provides users with an overview of results reporting compliance.
Clinical trials continue to go unreported despite numerous guidelines, commitments, and legal frameworks intended to address this issue. In the absence of formal sanctions from the FDA and others, we argue tools such as ours - providing live data on trial reporting - can improve accountability and performance. In addition, our service helps sponsors identify their own individual trials that have not yet reported results: we therefore offer positive practical support for sponsors who wish to ensure that all their completed trials have reported.