Lawyer for clinical trial victims claims legal challenge against reforms will leave public and medical community in the dark

The lawyer who represented victims of the TGN1412 Northwick Park clinical trials, that went disastrously wrong in 2006, has condemned a legal challenge by a leading clinical trials company against the full disclosure of clinical trials.

Gene Matthews from law firm Leigh Day, was reacting to the news that the proposal by The Health Research Authority (HRA), that all companies running trials are transparent about the trials they are running, is to face a legal challenge from Richmond Pharmacology, which conducts clinical trials on behalf of major pharmaceutical firms.

The reforms by the HRA hoped to end the practice of drug companies not having to publish bad results, leading to a drug appearing to work better and more safely than it does in reality.

Gene Matthews a partner at the law firm Leigh Day, who specialises in representing those injured in clinical trials, said it was a ‘pitiful’ attempt by the industry to challenge the transparency of drug trials.

Mr Matthews said: “this seems like a blatant attempt by pharmaceutical companies to keep the general public, medical and scientific community in the dark about the true safety profile of the drugs they hope to sell for huge profits to the NHS and around the world.

“It really is a pitiful attempt to avoid transparency within the pharmaceutical industry. The industry should be welcoming this move away from the dark ages and not challenging reasonable reforms to improve safety.”

Sense About Science, a campaign set up to ensure that negative results are just as available as those from trials that succeeded in showing a drug was beneficial, has been set up by a group of scientists from medical journals and the independent Cochrane collaboration as well as the author of Bad Science, Ben Goldacre.

They told the Guardian newspaper: “It is shocking that a company is using court action to try to stop transparency,” said Síle Lane, director of campaigns.

“Hidden and unregistered trials are compromising patient care, and, rightly, causing public outrage.

“The HRA has really led the way with its proposals to check that clinical trials aren’t kept hidden during the trial approval process. Hundreds of members of the public, patients, researchers, doctors and pharmacists have told the HRA that this is exactly what it should be doing. They want the HRA to help right the injustice done to the thousands of patients who have taken part in clinical trials that have been kept hidden. I find it deplorable that one company is trying to stop that.”

According to the Guardian Richmond Pharmacology said it was not at liberty to comment at the moment, because the case was in the hands of its lawyers.