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Availability of raw data from clinical trials may herald fundamental change in transparency

An announcement from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that it will make its raw clinical data available to researchers represents a significant change in the business of clinical sciences. The field has suffered considerable bad press in recent years arising from legal cases which saw several of the major drug companies receive fines of hundreds of millions of dollars. Not least among the transgressors was GSK itself. The company reached a $3 billion settlement with US authorities in July 2012 over allegations of fraud, including GSK’s publishing of “false and misleading accounts” of trial data and the suppression of safety concerns related to Paxil (paroxetine), Wellbutrin (bupropion) and Avandia (rosiglitazone). The move by GSK aims to restore a battered public image of an industry long suspected of putting corporate profits before patient safety and welfare.