At a glance: Eli Lilly’s public registry

What’s going on? From this autumn, Eli Lilly is going to disclose data from the clinical trials it sponsors. It is setting up an online registry at www.lillytrials.com, giving results from all stages of tests for its products, anywhere in the world.

Didn’t GlaxoSmithKline just do something similar?

Indeed it did, just a few weeks ago (PRWeek, 25 June).

So has anyone said ‘déjà vu’?

Certainly not in Lilly’s earshot. The timing is ‘purely coincidental’, the company insists, adding that ‘patients, customers and critics are looking for transparent answers’.

And everyone is buying that?

Yes. As you’ll recall, GSK scotched the idea that its own register was set up in response to ongoing controversies over the anti-depressant Paxil/Seroxat. Times are changing in the pharma industry. It’s undoubtedly true that the idea of greater transparency has been gaining public ground recently and Lilly insists that it had been planning to do something like this anyway.

When Lilly says ‘all’ clinical trials, does it mean all?

It will start with all trials of marketed products completed after 1 July this year. But it will also have retrospective details on drugs approved since 1994.

When will information be available?

For most products, Lilly will disclose results when a drug’s indication is approved and it’s commercially available. It will also put them into the public domain through peer-reviewed medical journals.

Does this move tell us anything new about pharma PR?

As many patients demand to become better informed and public healthcare provision changes, more information is out there, which means more PR strategies are required to filter and present it to various audiences.

So Lilly says this will present it with fresh comms challenges?

Its pointed remark that results that ‘do not support the hypothesis being tested or that are contrary to the expected outcome will be disclosed’ suggests a firm that does not expect everything to be plain sailing.

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