Non-Publication Is Common among Phase 1, Single-Center, Not Prospectively Registered, or Early Terminated Clinical Drug Trials

Cornelis A van den Bogert, Patrick C Souverein, Cecile T M Brekelmans, Susan W J Janssen, Gerard H Koëter, Hubert G M Leufkens, Lex M Bouter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The objective of this study was to investigate the occurrence and determinants of non-publication of clinical drug trials in the Netherlands.All clinical drug trials reviewed by the 28 Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in the Netherlands in 2007 were followed-up from approval to publication. Candidate determinants were the sponsor, phase, applicant, centers, therapeutic effect expected, type of trial, approval status of the drug(s), drug type, participant category, oncology or other disease area, prospective registration, and early termination. The main outcome was publication as peer reviewed article. The percentage of trials that were published, crude and adjusted odds ratio (OR), and 95% confidence interval (CI) were used to quantify the associations between determinants and publication. In 2007, 622 clinical drug trials were reviewed by IRBs in the Netherlands. By the end of follow-up, 19 of these were rejected by the IRB, another 19 never started inclusion, and 10 were still running. Of the 574 trials remaining in the analysis, 334 (58%) were published as peer-reviewed article. The multivariable logistic regression model identified the following determinants with a robust, statistically significant association with publication: phase 2 (60% published; adjusted OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.1-5.9), phase 3 (73% published; adjusted OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.7-10.0), and trials not belonging to phase 1-4 (60% published; adjusted OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.5 to 6.5) compared to phase 1 trials (35% published); trials with a company or investigator as applicant (63% published) compared to trials with a Contract Research Organization (CRO) as applicant (50% published; adjusted OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.1-2.8); and multicenter trials also conducted in other EU countries (68% published; adjusted OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1-4.4) or also outside the European Union (72% published; adjusted OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0-4.0) compared to single-center trials (45% published). Trials that were not prospectively registered (48% published) had a lower likelihood of publication compared to prospectively registered trials (75% published; adjusted OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.8), as well as trials that were terminated early (33% published) compared to trials that were completed as planned (64% published; adjusted OR 0.2, 95% CI 0.1-0.3). The non-publication rate of clinical trials seems to have improved compared to previous inception cohorts, but is still far from optimal, in particular among phase 1, single-center, not prospectively registered, and early terminated trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0167709
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS One
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2016


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