Visualizing Clinical Trials May Increase Drug Development Efficiency

Research suggests that as much as 85% of biomedical research may be wasteful, given the potential for biases in design, unnecessary duplication, or investigating non-important questions. Scientists at the Harvard Center for Bioethics have developed a model for looking across thousands of clinical trials to identify patterns and properties that may be contributing to this waste.

By analyzing 13,749 trials from all of the registered clinical trials from 10 large pharmaceutical companies (AbbVie, Bayer, Gilead, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi) over past 20 years that included more than 6 million patients, researchers were able to build a graph that shows what is being studied and can reveal what should be studied next.

The large, complex graph reveals a variety of trends in various therapeutic areas. For example, GSK and Sanofi are the most active when it comes to herpes zoster, influenza, rotavirus, and malaria, raising questions about why so few companies are studying diseases that affect so many people. These types of insights can be ascertained in a variety of therapeutic areas by viewing the graph.

While there are many applications of this graph, the developers believe taking a bird’s eye view of the data gives investigators the opportunity to interact with data, develop questions about patterns and outcomes, and characterize what research is being done.

The graph can also be viewed in a video format here.

Source: STAT, July 18, 2019.