Good Pharma Scorecard Continues to Boost Clinical Trial Transparency, Analyst Report Shows


Calls for increased transparency in clinical trials have been growing and now many medical journals are requiring authors of submitted papers to disclose whether or not they will be sharing clinical trial results.

One of the drivers of increased transparency has been the Good Pharma Scorecard, an annual ranking of pharma companies’ ethical performance developed by Bioethics International, along with researchers from Yale and Stanford universities. The scorecard was developed to provide a standardized means of assessing data-sharing practices.

In one of its latest reports, analyst firm GlobalData pointed to the impact of the scorecard. Jennifer E Miller, founder of Bioethics International and an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine told GlobalData that prior to the development of the scorecard, there was no consistent set of measures or benchmarks that could be used to understand how research sponsors were performing.  She said what was going on in the pharma space wasn’t always clear.

Since 2015 though, the scorecard has been shining sunlight on clinical trial transparency. In its most recent report, Roche and Novo Nordisk scored perfect marks in overall trial transparency.  Life sciences giant Johnson & Johnson had held the top spot in the previous report conducted in 2017 but fell from that rank. The most recent scorecard focused on clinical transparency and data-sharing practices in large pharmaceutical companies, specifically on trial registration, results reporting, publication and data-sharing practices.

Janssen, J&J’s pharma subsidiary, has long pushed to be a transparent company. In 2017, Janssen released its first annual transparency report that highlights its pricing and marketing practices, patient access programs and costs of the company’s clinical trials.

For Miller, the purpose of the scorecard is fairly simple. In a previous interview with BioSpace, Miller said the scorecard is to help set ethics and social responsibility measures within the industry and provide an independent tracking tool to “both recognize best practices and catalyze reform, where needed, in companies.” For Miller and Bioethics International, the sharing of clinical data is important as it can prevent researchers from going down a drug discovery path that has already proven futile. Being able to learn from what has already been done, including successes and failures, stimulates innovation and the development of lifesaving drugs, Bioethics said on its website.

Since the Good Pharma Scorecard was first introduced in 2015, Miller said the industry's overall median transparency scores have gone up year after year. In the latest scorecard, Bioethics International said that several companies’ data-sharing commitments exceeded the standards measured. As GlobalData points out in its latest look at the scorecard, companies have used the sunshine to improve their policies. When the report was first conducted in 2015, there was a median of 63% for transparency across the 20 largest pharma companies examined. By the next scorecard, the average score jumped to 80%.

Miller and her team plan on continuing to conduct the annual analysis and expand the scorecard to include small and mid-sized pharma and biotech companies, as well as looking at biologics and medical devices.

“Through repeating the data-sharing measures every year, we can make sure we’re catalyzing consistent data sharing year after year across many companies. The more data that companies collect, the more we need to ask what responsible data collection looks like,” Miller told GlobalData. “We need to make sure there’s an accountability mechanism present so we can understand how companies are performing relative to a set of ethics standards.”

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