Retrospective Analysis of Clinical Trials

Last week David Cameron, the British Prime minister, announced a new policy to make available the data from National Health Service prescriptions in order to promote better new medicines discovery.

I wonder if he had read an article published in Drug Discovery Today and available online from October 2011, wherein we say essentially the same thing.

The article focusses on the use of retrospective analysis for identifying new uses for developmental compounds (drug rescue), whereas prescription databases can reveal associations of existing, marketed drugs with new indications. Nevetheless, there is a close parallel. In my view, there is enormous value from such analysis, and the UK is best placed to deliver. The General Practice Research Database (GPRD) is the largest of its kind in the world, and has been used previously, for instance to unearth the potential of certain CNS drugs in the prevention of cancer. As it stands, the GPRD is not open access, and procedures for conducting such analysis are bureaucratic, but maybe that will change…

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