Two clinicians have devised a new system to prevent clinical trial documents being secretly altered to make new drugs look more effective than they are by using a similar system as the digital currency of Bitcoin.
Reporting in F1000Research, the doctors said that “undeclared changes to protocols is a major issue in clinical research.”
This is because if initial analyses show a medication to be ineffective, researchers can continue to analyse new health outcomes until a positive result is found. But if only the positive findings are reported, the medication might be mistakenly approved.
Despite an international mandate requiring all trials to be registered before the experiments begin, the problem still persists as universal enforcement is difficult. There are now lobby groups trying to open up the availability of data, such as the U.K.-based AllTrials, but there are still major gaps when it comes to opening up data.
So the doctors turned to Bitcoin–a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, and operate independently of a central bank.
What interested them about this system is that its blockchain is a decentralized database of bitcoin transactions: This means that