Background: The number of publications on clinical trials is unknown as well as the countries publishing most trial reports. To try to examine these questions we performed an ecological study. Methods: We searched the 454,449 records on publications in The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2005 (CD-ROM version) for possible country of origin. We inspected a random sample of 906 records for information on country and type of trial. Results: There was an exponential growth of publications on randomised controlled trials and controlled clinical trials since 1946, but the growth seems to have seized since 2000. We identified the possible country of origin of 210,974 publications (46.4%). The USA is leading with about 46,789 publications followed by UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, and France. Sweden becomes the leader with 891 publications per million inhabitants during the last 60 years followed by Denmark (n = 864), New Zealand (n = 791), Finland (n = 781), the Netherlands (n = 570), Switzerland (n = 547), and Norway (n = 543). In depth assessment of the random sample backed these findings. Conclusions: Many records lacked country of origin, even after the additional scrutiny. The number of publications on clinical trials increased exponentially until the turn of the century. Rather small, democratic, and wealthy countries take the lead when the number of publications on clinical trials is calculated based on million inhabitants. If all countries produced the same number of trials as these countries, this could mean thousands of new effective treatments during the next 60 years.
February 27, 2007 12:00 AM