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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 74  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-4

Registration and reporting of clinical trials

Department of Dermatology, Seth GS Medical College and Kind Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India

Correspondence Address:
Uday Khopkar
Department of Dermatology, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, 400 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.38397

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How to cite this article:
Khopkar U, Pande S. Registration and reporting of clinical trials. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:2-4

How to cite this URL:
Khopkar U, Pande S. Registration and reporting of clinical trials. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2020 Aug 14];74:2-4. Available from:

Clinical trials form an integral part of the drug discovery process worldwide. However, registration of clinical trials is not restricted to drug interventions. A clinical trial is defined as "any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes." [1] Interventions include not only drugs but also cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiologic procedures, devices, behavioral treatments, process-of-care changes, preventive care, etc. A set of guidelines are already in place in India for the ethical conduct of studies to safeguard the interests of patients or volunteers participating in the study. However, there is a need to promote knowledge and awareness of regulatory laws and the more recent phenomenon of registration of clinical trials in India.

  Inadequate and Selective Reporting Top

Currently, apart from a few academic clinical trials sponsored by government bodies or NGOs, the majority of clinical trials conducted in India are sponsored, randomized controlled trials. Most of the major hospitals are equipped with appropriately constituted Institutional Ethics Committees (IEC) and Review Boards (IRB). However, the results of clinical trials or their information are not adequately disseminated in many instances. Only selected or positive results might get published which are at risk of being doubted as being biased. Often in such cases, valuable scientific efforts are wasted without yielding desired outcomes. As reports of clinical trials form an important source of information for practitioners, researchers, academicians and the public, it is the moral, ethical and scientific responsibility of researchers to report the results. The so called 'discreetness' of clinical trials defeats the very purpose of scientific research and principles of evidence-based medicine. It may distort the evidence required for making correct clinical decisions. Besides, it deprives trial participants, the general public and fellow researchers of their right to information. It commonly results in duplication of efforts and wastage of vital resources.

  Clinical Trial Registratiion Top

In order to make clinical data and reports available to all, an online clinical registry has been initiated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the registration of any interventional trial to ensure the following goals: [2]

  1. Transparency and accountability of clinical research
  2. Internal validity of clinical trials
  3. To oversee the ethical conduct of clinical trials
  4. Reporting of results of clinical trials

The clinical trial registry of India (CTRI) is the online registry of prospective clinical trials in India. This is the initiative started by the National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS) of the Indian Council of Medical Research and is supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

CTRI will create a database of prospective clinical trials in India after their registration. The data and reports of these clinical trials and their status will be available to the public and professionals free of cost after formal registration on their website Currently, the registration of clinical trials is only voluntary and not mandatory. With increased awareness about this initiative and wide acceptance of the purpose of CT registration, it is likely that it may become mandatory in the future for initiation of clinical trials in India.

It has been affirmed that CT registration should be done before the actual enrollment of study subjects in the trial. The principal investigator or sponsor should share the responsibility of CT registration. In the case of multicentric studies, the lead investigator or sponsor should ensure that the CT is registered.

For the registration of a CT, it is essential to declare 20 items relevant to the CT as determined by the International Clinical Trial Registration Platform (ICTRP) of the World Health Organization (ICRTP-WHO). For registration with the CTRI, additional items related to the EC or IRB's permission and that of Director Controller General of India (DCGI) are included. At the end of a successful registration, each CT is assigned a unique WHO identification number called the Unique Trial Reference Number (UTRN) [Table - 1].

  Registration of Nonsponsored Clinical Trials Top

It is widely perceived that the registration requirement for clinical trials refers only to sponsored trials. However, current guidelines for the registration of clinical trials do not make any distinction between sponsored and nonsponsored trials. Enforcement of registration for nonsponsored studies also offers the same advantages as for sponsored trials. Hence, as of today, it is recommended that all clinical trials, sponsored or nonsponsored, be registered at the time of inception. This includes a large number of interventional clinical studies that are conducted in medical colleges as part of postgraduate dissertations. It is particularly important for these to be registered as many of these are duplicated studies and not reporting them leads to wastage of resources.

  Publication of Clinical Trials Top

Although the CTRI is a recent phenomenon, similar registries have been in existence in other countries for some time. As such pretrial registration ensures the authenticity of a clinical trial, medical journal editors prefer a registered clinical trial over an unregistered one. Therefore, registration before the initiation of a trial is a prerequisite for publishing clinical trial data in many medical journals.

Member journals of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) declared in a common editorial published in 2004, that their journals will not publish the results of any clinical trial that began recruitment after 1 st July 2005 if it was not registered with an authorized registry at the time of inception of the trial. [3] Studies on pharmacokinetics or major toxicity ( e.g , phase I trials) have been exempted by ICMJE guidelines to ensure protection of original ideas. [4] However, it is mandatory for all the pharma sponsors to make public all their findings within a given framework of time as a part of their responsibility to the public at large.

Thus, clinical trial registration offers unique advantages to researchers in terms of the smooth publication of results in international and national journals. Apart from this, it encourages researchers to engage in more meaningful and scientifically and ethically sound clinical research. Needless to say, it will build up public confidence in the conduct and authenticity of clinical trials.

Currently, most Indian journals do not enforce the registration for clinical trial reports that are submitted to them for publication. However, with the recent launch of the CTRI website, it may soon become inevitable for them to enforce the registration at the time of inception of a study.

  References Top

1.Clinical trial registration: A statement from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Available from: [Last accessed on 2007 Nov 27] .   Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Clinical trial registry- India. Available from: [Last updated on 2007 Nov 15]. [Last accessed on 2007 Nov 27].  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.DeAngelis C, Drazen JM, Frizelle FA, Haug C, Hoey J, Horton R, et al. Clinical trial registration: A statement from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. N Engl J Med. 2004;351:1250-1.   Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Salvi V. Research trials: Registration, reporting and publication. J Postgrad Med 2005;51:83-4.  Back to cited text no. 4    


  [Table - 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Clinical Trial Registry - India (CTR-I): A meaningful initiative. How to take it forward?
Bavdekar, S.
Journal of Postgraduate Medicine. 2008; 54(1): 1-3


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