BPS and ASPET support publication of negative findings

11 September 2013

Two leading pharmacology societies, the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), have announced their support for the publication of negative findings from early clinical trials. Their jointly published journal, Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, is at the same time launching an efficient and timely means for researchers to publish negative findings in two important areas: preclinical papers that show a hypothesis to be incorrect, and papers on drugs that have failed in early clinical development that can inform whether further drug development is warranted.

Professor Phil Routledge, BPS President, comments: “It is ethically correct for pharmacologists working in academia, industry and the health services to publish negative findings. Openness not only ensures that the research community is collectively making the best possible use of resources, but also that clinical trial volunteers are not unnecessarily exposed to likely ineffective or potentially unsafe treatments when evidence may already suggest that the drug target in question is flawed.”

Both BPS and ASPET are committed to the view that new opportunities for publishing negative findings are needed, in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of research and waste of resources1. It has been well-documented that it is difficult for authors to find journals prepared to publish negative findings2. In addition, once a trial shows negative results, resources within an organization may be reallocated so there may not be the opportunity to produce and submit a scientific paper subsequently.

Dr Mike Curtis, BPS Fellow and Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, adds: “Historically, negative findings have tended to remain unpublished. As an author I found that journal referees often rejected papers on the grounds that the findings were negative. Now, as an Editor-in-Chief, I’m conscious that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. When there is no record of history then it is inevitable that others will waste time and resources in unwitting replication of failed programmes.”

Dr James Barrett, Chair of ASPET’s Board of Publications Trustees, also comments: “The failure to publish preclinical and clinical findings that do not support a hypothesis or the therapeutic value of a drug because they are ‘negative’ and should remain generally unavailable may not be beneficial to progress. If such studies are based on appropriate methodology and conducted well, they can add valuable information that can provide a positive direction and momentum to both basic and clinical research. Adopting this policy places Pharmacology Research & Perspectives in a unique position to advance both preclinical and clinical research."

BPS Honorary Fellow, Professor Sir Michael Rawlins observes: “I have previously stated that I believe that all negative and positive trials should be in the public domain, so I welcome this move to ensure that negative findings related to early clinical trials can be submitted for publication.”

“The announcement from BPS and ASPET is very welcome international leadership from societies who want to ensure clinical trial information is published. The results of around half of all trials are not published - this information is kept from doctors, researchers and regulators; resources are wasted repeating research that has been done and participants in further clinical trials are misled. I hope more organisations will follow BPS and ASPET’s lead and set out what they can do to ensure more clinical trials report their results,” added Síle Lane, Sense About Science, one of the founding organisations of the AllTrials campaign.

Full information about the call for papers on target validation is available from the Pharmacology Research & Perspectives website.

[1] Hayes A, Hunter J. Why is publication of negative clinical trial data important? Brit J Pharmacol.2010;167: 1395–7. 

[2]Sterne JAC, Eggers M, Moher D. Addressing reporting biases. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.

The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), founded in 1908, is one of the premier scientific societies for pharmacologists in the world. ASPET members conduct basic and clinical pharmacological research in academia, industry, and government. ASPET members’ research efforts help develop new medicines and therapeutic agents to fight existing and emerging diseases. ASPET publishes four high-impact peer-reviewed journals (Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Pharmacological Reviews, Molecular Pharmacology, and Drug Metabolism and Disposition). The Society provides a variety of other important services to its more than 4,800 members worldwide including educational opportunities through meetings, public affairs advocacy, award opportunities, and much more.

About BPS
The British Pharmacological Society (BPS) is one of the world’s leading societies concerned with research into drugs and the way they work. With +3,000 members, from +60 countries worldwide, it is a truly international organization. BPS covers the whole spectrum of pharmacology, including laboratory, clinical, and toxicological aspects, and supports its members at work in academia, industry, regulatory agencies and the health services. Clinical pharmacology is the medical specialty dedicated to promoting safe and effective use of medicines for patient benefit. Many clinical pharmacologists work as consultants in the NHS and many hold prominent positions in UK Universities. The Society promotes the interests of pharmacologists through scientific meetings, educational resources and learned journals: the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (BJCP) and the British Journal of Pharmacology (BJP), featuring a highly cited reference source, the Guide to Receptors and Channels (GRAC), which from 2013 will be the Guide to Pharmacology (www.guidetopharmacology.org). As part of its continuing commitment to the principles of transparency, in February 2013 BPS announced its support of the AllTrials campaign which calls for all clinical trials to be registered and their outcomes to be reported.

About Pharmacology Research & Perspectives
Pharmacology Research & Perspectives was jointly launched by BPS, ASPET and John Wiley & Sons in April 2013. The journal will serve as the first fully open access journal for ASPET and BPS, and joins their combined portfolio of prestigious peer-reviewed subscription-based scientific journals, such as the Drug Metabolism and Disposition, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Molecular Pharmacology, British Journal of Pharmacology, and British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Pharmacology Research & Perspectives will publish original research, reviews and perspectives in all areas of preclinical and clinical pharmacology, therapeutics, education and related research areas. The journal expects to publish its first issue later in the year.

Contacts for further information
BPS Press Office:
T. +44 (0)20 7239 0184 / 180
M. +44 (0)7811 378957
E. katharine.richardson@bps.ac.uk / hom@bps.ac.uk
W. www.bps.ac.uk

ASPET Office:
T. +001 (301) 634-7060
F. +001 (301) 634-7061
E. info@aspet.org
W. www.aspet.org

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