A few days back when skiing at the top of the French Alps I felt amazed by the clarity of the scenery in front of me.  After a perfect start in the morning with clear blue skies, the weather suddenly changed to foggy and visibility went to zero!

The day before my teenage son had talked me into buying him some very expensive new goggles with technical specifications that promised outstanding visibility under any type of weather condition.
At the point when the fog hit, my son was in front of me on the slope going down at a very high speed, bearing the bad visibility in mind. I couldn’t keep up with him because my vision was impaired – I was wearing my favorite but a bit outdated goggles. Later on when I finally caught up with him, his first comment was “Mom, I told you that visibility is everything“. For an hour that afternoon I borrowed his goggles and just felt extremely confident in navigating down the slopes, even in heavy fog.

And then it occurred to me! Clinical researchers may very well have this feeling when trying to navigate through clinical research data, some of which they may not have full access to. But the fog is clearing for researches now.

The recent call for the pharmaceutical industry to be more transparent about clinical trial data has led the second major industry player to announce commitments and specific initiatives to improve access to clinical trial data for third party researchers. So soon researches will have the opportunity to examine data more closely and to plan new research with firsthand insights to learn about how medicines work in different patient populations. All of this will help optimize the use of medicines with the aim of improving patient care.

Navigating large amounts of clinical data, making rigorous conclusions and basing future research on these insights may be challenging and should be done with due care and consideration. This is exactly what the industry is ensuring by setting up independent panels of experts to evaluate the granting of data access for researches based on scientific merit.

Even the best goggles will not transform a rookie skier into a champion, but when clarity is given to researchers with high clinical qualifications, new contributions to research will work to the benefits of the patient.

By the way I did buy a pair of new goggles that day – visibility is everything!

Tina Hahn

References

http://www.roche.com/media/media_releases/med-cor-2013-02-26.htm

http://www.gsk.com/media/press-releases/2012/GSK-announces-further-initiatives-to-tackle-global-health-challenges.html