Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline is promising to be the first pharmaceutical company to share its highly confidential data from clinical trials with outside researchers. The move comes just three months after GlaxoSmithKline was fined $3 billion for illegal marketing of two antidepressants and for hiding critical data about a diabetes medicine.
Beginning next year, the British company said it will review requests from researchers through a panel that will evaluate the scientific merit, Reuters reports. The information it releases will be detailed enough to include patient results, which have been stripped of identifying information, for both failed and approved drugs.
‘Open and Transparent’
GlaxoSmithKline Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty announced the change at a speech in London at the Wellcome Trust, Forbes reports. “Because of our unique role, we recognize that society holds us to higher standards than for other industries,” he said. “This is how it should be. Over the last four or so years we at GSK have been working hard to be more open and transparent. As I have shown these new approaches are helping to provide new solutions for serious global health issues. They will also help build society’s trust.”
Witty said that allowing scientists access to GlaxoSmithKline’s data builds on the company’s efforts to share its work with the public. Currently, the drugmaker publishes results of its clinical trials on its website and one associated with the National Institutes of Health. It also claims to attempt to publish scientific papers on every study in research journals, according to Forbes.
Openness Follows Lawsuit
Unlike this voluntary move toward transparency, however, GlaxoSmithKline only began publishing results from clinical trials on its own website as part of a settlement for not disclosing negative data for an antidepressant. The drugmaker was sued in 2004 for deliberately suppressing information that linked Paxil to suicidal thoughts in children.
If GlaxoSmithKline makes good on its pledge, vetted researchers will be granted access to the company’s raw data, which they can then analyze for themselves. Witty hopes this process will help his company in the development of drugs and, of course, its public image.
In his speech, Witty also announced that GlaxoSmithKline will make its portfolio of compounds that might effectively fight tuberculosis easily and freely available to researchers as well. Its screening process has produced 200 possibilities for further study. The company did the same thing in 2009 with malaria compounds. Neither disease has the potential for great profits for pharmaceutical companies, Reuters reports.