Cancer patients are being put at risk because of the refusal of drug companies to publish the results of clinical trials, scientists claimed yesterday.

Cancer patients are being put at risk because of the refusal of drug companies to publish the results of clinical trials, scientists claimed yesterday.

Research suggests data from more than a quarter of cancer trials never reaches the public domain because drug companies suppress negative findings or try to prevent rival companies learning too much about their products.

Richard Sullivan, head of clinical programmes at Cancer Research UK, said: "The medical community needs to know the results of clinical trials to be able to view the entire picture of how a treatment works, how it compares to other therapies and what choices could serve patients best. It's disturbing to think that important information on clinical trials is being left to gather dust."

A study of 500 cancer trials found that 26 per cent had failed to publish their full results five years after presenting early date at a leading American conference according to Dr Sullivan. "That is data from 47,000 patients who gave their consent to be involved in the research that was wasted. It is shocking," Dr Sullivan told the British Association Festival of Science meeting in Exeter.

Trial investigators cited lack of time and shortage of funds as their main reasons for not publishing. But Dr Sullivan said there was a perception among drug companies that publishing early data might help the competition. He called for a database of all clinical trials to be established so the information was in the public domain.

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