At a glance: GSK Clinical Trial Register

GlaxoSmithKline is to set up a Clinical Trial Register. Is this a watershed in respect of information provision?

Where the UK’s biggest drug maker leads, others will surely have to follow, so this looks set to have a marked impact on pharmaceutical PR work, at least where clinical trials are concerned.

What will other pharmas make of it?

Corporate comms teams at rival pharma companies have been burning the midnight oil this week wondering whether to present their own version of GSK’s register. And wherever there’s increased information, there is a need for greater communication.

But other companies are not facing lawsuits.

GSK claims its register had been planned for a while and is therefore not a knee-jerk response to the ongoing New York imbroglio, as cynics would no doubt suggest. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry is among those welcoming the firm’s move.

But why should this worry other firms?

It is inconceivable that just one drug company will publish all results from clinical trials – good, bad and indifferent – while all the others simply farm out the positive bits.

So negative results could be a big problem?

That’s the most obvious worry for pharma PROs, but positive data could also be problematic – for example, it could be damaging to a brand if doctors start prescribing it ‘off label’ on the basis of positive early findings. Doctors, regulators, investors and, of course, patients will all be able to see a great deal more information about the progress of various products.

And this means more firefighting for PROs?

On a number of fronts. It seems inevitable that journalists, given greater access to negative findings on certain products, will have more firepower to write potentially damaging stories. This issue certainly looks set to create work for the PR sector, if nothing else.

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