Ethical standards and clinical trials: a letter to the Times

07 November 2012

In a letter to the Times, BPS President Professor Phil Routledge joined 15 other healthcare representatives to highlight the work of the healthcare professions and life sciences industry in the campaign for clinical trial transparency.

Sir, The Times has done patients and the public a great service by highlighting the campaign for transparency in clinical trials. We hope you and other newspapers will also be willing to continue to highlight the important work that the healthcare professions are doing with the life sciences industry to address this complex problem. An ethical standards group (ESHLSG.org), formed by a number of medical royal colleges and professional societies, together with relevant industry bodies, has come together in support of transparency and higher standards for the benefit of patients.

The Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG) has already published a set of best practice principles and facts on the transparency of clinical trials. We are currently seeking the views of healthcare professionals on medical education sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry and will shortly consult on the disclosure of financial relationships between healthcare professionals and commercial organisations. The outcomes will inform our future work to bring transparency to these relationships. Healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical companies and others within the life sciences industry are committed to ethical behaviour, and progress has already been made.

It is only by working together that we can most effectively deliver further improvements in transparency. We shall continue to do this, including work on the complex issue of increasing disclosure of clinical trials data.

Sir Richard Thompson, President, Royal College of Physicians and co-chair, Ethical Standards in Health and Life Sciences Group (ESHLSG)
Deepak Khanna, President, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and co-chair, ESHLSG
Martin Astbury, President, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Professor Sue Bailey, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Imran Rafi, Medical Director, Royal College of General Practitioners Clinical Innovation and Research Centre
Professor John Betteridge, Dean, Royal Society of Medicine
Dr Neil Dewhurst, President, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Mike Farrar, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation
Professor Philip Routledge, President of the British Pharmacological Society
Professor Terence Stephenson, Chairman, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
Dr Richard Tiner, President, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine
Mr David Tolley, President, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Professor John Wass, Academic Vice President, Royal College of Physicians
Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive Officer, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
Dr Frank Wells, Advisor on Research Integrity, British Medical Association
Doris Ann Williams, Chief Executive Officer, British in Vitro Diagnostics Association


The ESHLSG comprises of 19 healthcare organizations and includes representation from the medical community and the pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic industries.

In May 2013 the group published a series of series of clinical trial transparency principles and facts.

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