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Trials evaluating treatments for neglected diseases are hampered by a shortage of software systems that manage data in compliance with international guidelines, say Greg W. Fegan and Trudie A. Lang in PLoS Medicine.

They argue that the prohibitive cost of clinical trials-related software leaves many developing country institutions with the unenviable choice of either not being able to comply with international standards or having to send trial data offsite for processing.

The authors urge international donors to foster the use of open-source database systems: "Just as funders of biomedical research are starting to require scientific output to be published in open-access journals, could they not require that the software used for the management of clinical trials also be open?"

Fegan and Lang say that the benefits would include encouragement of investigators in poor countries and resource-poor settings to take part in high-standard research that would otherwise be out of reach and beyond their capacity. This, in turn, would increase the scope and variety of trials.

Link to full article in PLoS Medicine