Readers of Nature who are familiar with recent controversies surrounding clinical trials and medical practice may find it bizarre that anyone could be “surprised and concerned to discover that information is routinely withheld from doctors and researchers about the methods and results of clinical trials”, as stated in a UK government report last week.

After all, campaigning doctors have warned for years that pharmaceutical companies have in the past concealed data that reflected poorly on their drugs. Regulators — notably the London-based European Medicines Agency — have pushed for more information to be released into the public domain. And the drug industry itself has moved to open its private data vaults, albeit not by as much or as quickly as campaigners would like.

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