Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi top 'Good Pharma' trial transparency ranking with perfect scores

Bioethics International's latest study of clinical transparency for new drugs studied meds approved by the FDA in 2014.

It’s an A-plus for Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. The second annual Good Pharma Scorecard assigned both drugmakers perfect scores of 100% for clinical trial transparency. AbbVie, Celgene, Merck and AstraZeneca also scored at or above the median of 91% in Bioethics International's study, which ranks new drugs and the companies that make them.

Two Big Pharma companies, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, weren’t included in the scorecard because they did not have a drug approval in the year studied.

Overall, scores across the metrics measured improved significantly in almost every area for the 11 pharma companies across 19 drugs, Bioethics founder Jennifer E. Miller said.

Trials disclosed for studies on all patients, for example, went from 87% made publicly available to 96% reported. In another improvement from the previous study, nondisclosure rates sank. In the original survey, about half of the drugs had at least one undisclosed trial, while in the new study, that dropped to one-third.

RELATED: The top 10 drug launches of 2017

“It shows what gets measured gets done, and that the industry is trying to address this issue,” Miller said. “This year there has been a big jump. It takes time to operationalize it once you make a commitment.”

Bioethics launched the scorecard in 2015 and this year measured clinical trial registration, results reporting, clinical report sharing and journal article publication rates for new drugs approved by the FDA in 2014. The study rates transparency metrics at 13 months post-FDA approval, and next year that period will shrink to six months post-FDA approval.

“Companies should do good whether it pays or not,” Miller said. “That said, there are benefits to clinical trial transparency. A lot of people are paying attention to it now. Patient groups want to make sure that they’re recruiting participants for trials and that the participation of their patients is being maximized. The whole reason we’re allowed to experiment on humans to begin with is because of the potential to contribute to general knowledge. If you don’t put the clinical trial results into public space, the whole ethics of the trial come into question. So that’s a reputational hazard.”

RELATED: FDA bears greater ethical burden in post-marketing trials, NEJM says

Miller’s goal is to get all companies to No. 1, or 100% transparency.

“That’s part of the reason we created the scorecard—not only to celebrate the high scoring companies but to incentivize those who didn’t score quite as high to do better,” she said. “I’m happily surprised the scores already went up from our last set of rankings.”

For J&J, it was the second year in a row at the top with a 100% transparency rate.

"We believe sharing clinical trial data honors the patients who participated in the trial, and contributes to improving patient care," Joanne Waldstreicher, Chief Medical Officer of Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement. "The Good Pharma Scorecard transparency standards match our own standards, and we recognize the work Bioethics International is doing to shine a light on transparency in the industry."