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About the drug trials visualiser


The drug trials visualiser is a tool for finding and displaying information about the development of drugs. The goal is to highlight the sorts of useful and interesting information that is available in the FDA’s clinical trials registry as well as the information that is inaccurate or lacking.

Where does the data come from?

The study data is downloaded from www.clinicaltrials.gov (hereafter referred to as CTG), unzipped, read as XML and inserted into a MySQL database, where it is formatted into the lovely graphs you see on the drug trials visualiser. Searches that remain on this server will be purged after two weeks if no user has saved them.

The FDA approval data comes from here, and it’s automatically updated every week.

How do I use this tool?

  • Search for a drug of your choice using the form on this page
  • I recommend viewing a search in full-screen mode on Google Chrome
  • Click on one of the bars across the graph for details
  • Toggle between regular and “enrolment” view modes—enrollment view shows each trial’s height scaled to the number of participants enrolled (for sets of trials that include studies with more than 10,000 enrolled, the enrolment view mode is replaced with the log(enrol) view mode, which scales each trial’s height to the logarithm of the number of participants enrolled

Why are some of the studies fade at the beginning or end or both while others are solid yellow?

This means there’s incomplete date data, so the authors didn’t mark down either the start date (in which case it would be at the beginning of the graph at the top left) or they didn’t mark down the completion date, in which case the bar for the study on the graph is an arbitrary length.

Why doesn’t the site work on Internet Explorer?

I haven’t even tested the site in Internet Explorer, let alone debugged it. Life is too short for that. Here: You’re welcome. I’ve found it works decently on Firefox, Safari and Opera. For best results, use Chrome, and hit View > Enter Full Screen.

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