Will A Clinical Trial Database Help Investors?

Between the controversy over drug reimportation and activism from a certain state's attorney general, it has been a nasty year for the pharmaceutical industry. For example, some of the prominent problems have been the lawsuits against GlaxoSmitkKline (NYSE: GSK - News) and Forest Labs (NYSE: FRX - News) from said attorney general. These suits have ended in settlements with both companies agreeing to release positive and negative data from clinical studies of its drugs. Perhaps not coincidentally, yesterday the drug industry's lobbying organization, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), announced the creation of a database of summarized clinical trial results for most drugs sold in the U.S. This aggregation of drug data is being created because of pressure from physicians, medical journals, and politicians. These groups want increased disclosure of clinical trials results that typically have not been disclosed to the public in great detail. According to PhRMA, the clinical trials database will be at the website www.clinicalstudyresults.org beginning in October. Participation by the drug companies will be completely voluntary and will include Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY - News) and Merck (NYSE: MRK - News) with many others expected to join as well. At this point, it is not clear to me exactly what data will be released in this public database, though any information is better than nothing. While this development is certainly good news for patients and physicians, the impact on investors may be minimal, depending upon the type of data that will be released. To aid with investment decisions, I'd love to see full data sets from early stage clinical trials, but that won't happen for competitive reasons.

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