January 18, 2018: Implementation of Revised Common Rule Delayed

On January 17, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services and 15 other federal departments and agencies announced a delay to both the effective and compliance dates for the revisions to the “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects” (also known as the Common Rule). Most provisions in the revised Common Rule were scheduled to go into effect on January 19, 2018. The Interim Final Rule announced a delay until July 19, 2018, with the option for further delay, to give institutions additional time to prepare to implement the revisions. Before July 19, 2018, institutions may only begin implementing provisions of the revised Common Rule that do not conflict with the pre-2018 Common Rule.

A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is also in development to seek public comment on a proposal for further delay in the required implementation of the revised Common Rule (for example, until January 21, 2019). A decision will be made after considering public comments.

November 20, 2017: NIH Collaboratory Core Working Group Interviews: Reflections from the Regulatory/Ethics Core

We recently asked Drs. Jeremy Sugarman and Kevin Weinfurt, Co-chairs of the Regulatory/Ethics Core, to reflect on the first 5 years of the Core as well as on the challenges ahead. The regulatory and ethical landscape for pragmatic clinical trials was not well defined when the Core began 5 years ago, and the Core helped to map and navigate the emerging landscape to enable the implementation of Demonstration Projects in ways that satisfied ethical and regulatory criteria.

“The Core’s work has led to the creation of a substantial body of scholarship contributing to the ongoing policy and ethics debates about pragmatic clinical trials.” – Drs. Sugarman and Weinfurt

Download the interview (PDF).

GCP Guidance and Pragmatic Clinical Trials: Opportunities for Harmonization

A new article published in Circulation by a group of authors from the Duke Clinical Research Institute describes tensions between pragmatic clinical trial design and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines, which were established in 1996 to help ensure the safety of participants in clinical trials and the validity of trial findings. Pragmatic clinical trials (PCTs) are designed to test interventions in real-world settings and populations rather than under highly controlled conditions, and thus rely on simplified procedures, such as those used for screening, informed consent, and participant follow-up.

The authors concede that many PCT features appear to be at odds with GCP guidance, which has arguably led to improvements in the consistency and quality of trial conduct. However, they also note data suggesting that the intensive approach to monitoring and documentation fostered by GCP may ultimately increase trial cost and complexity by emphasizing minutia that “may direct focus away from critical aspects of trial conduct.”

The authors go on to suggest that GCP guidance should be updated to account for a growing proportion of research that incorporates aspects of pragmatic trial design and is conducted with data gathered from electronic health records and registries. They also offer a path forward for pragmatic research under current GCP guidelines by outlining strategies for areas that include participant enrollment, monitoring, study visits, participant follow-up, and documentation.

The authors conclude that collaborative efforts from trial sponsors, regulators, clinical trialists, and patients will be necessary to realign the guidance with contemporary trial conduct while preserving its central goal of protecting trial participants.

For further information:

For additional reading:

Introduction to PCTs

eBook on PCTs (University of Colorado Denver)

Ethics and regulatory issues in PCTs articles

NIH Collaboratory PCT: Time to Reduce Mortality in End-Stage Renal Disease (TiME)

NIH Collaboratory PCT: Blood Pressure Medication Timing Study (BPMedTime)

PCORnet PCT: ADAPTABLE, the aspirin study

Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative Quality by Design Project

Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative GCP Training Project

 

New Lessons Learned Document Draws on Experiences of Demonstration Projects

The NIH Collaboratory’s Health Care Systems Interactions Core has published a document entitled Lessons Learned from the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory Demonstration Projects. The Principal Investigators of each of the Demonstration Projects shared their trial-specific experience with the Core to develop the document, which presents problems and solutions for initiation and implementation of pragmatic clinical trials (PCTs). Lessons learned are divided into the following categories: build partnerships, define clinically important questions, assess feasibility, involve stakeholders in study design, consider institutional review board and regulatory issues, and assess potential issues with biostatistics and the analytic plan.

Other tools available from the Health Care Systems Interactions Core include a guidance document entitled Considerations for Training Front-Line Staff and Clinicians on Pragmatic Clinical Trial Procedures and an introduction to PCTs slide set.

Upcoming CTTI Webinar on Informed Consent Recommendations


CTTI-logo-127x100The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative’s Informed Consent Project will unveil recommendations and associated resources for informed consent on Thursday, November 19.

Presenters include Jennifer Lentz, Global Informed Consent Process Owner in Global Clinical Operations at Eli Lilly and Company, and Michele Kennett, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of the Institutional Review Board at the University of Missouri.

Topic: Informed Consent Project Recommendations
• Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015
• Time: 12 – 1 pm EST

To join the public webinar:
 
Meeting Link: Join WebEx Meeting 
Meeting Number: 732 884 847 
Meeting Password: ctti 

After you connect to the website, please follow step-by-step instructions for connecting to the audio. If you prefer to connect to audio only, you can join by phone at:

1-855-244-8681 Call-in toll-free number (US/Canada) 
1-650-479-3207 Call-in toll number (US/Canada)

Modernizing the Common Rule for the 21st Century


The New England Journal of Medicine today published a perspective by NIH Deputy Directory Kathy L. Hudson, PhD, and NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, in which they outline the major reforms proposed for regulations governing the ethical conduct of research involving humans, known as the Common Rule (45 CFR 46, Subpart A).

The proposed changes are meant to enhance respect for research participants, calibrate oversight to level of risk, simplify consent documents, streamline IRB review, increase privacy and security safeguards, and facilitate broad participation in research.

“These long-overdue reforms will bring the Common Rule into the 21st century. They should help the scientific community take a giant leap forward in showing respect for research participants, without whom the biomedical research enterprise would cease to exist.”

The NIH is encouraging all stakeholders—the public, researchers, and patients—to closely review the proposed changes and participate in the comment process by the December 7, 2015, deadline.

For more information on the proposed revisions:

Grand Rounds Presentation, Kathy Hudson (video)

Department of Health and Human Services' website on the NPRM 

OHRP Webinars on the NPRM

Living Textbook Chapter: Informed Consent: Emerging Issues and Controversies

OHRP Town Hall Meeting to Discuss NPRM


The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) has announced a public Town Hall Meeting to be held October 20, 2015, to respond to questions related to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published on September 8, 2015.

The goal of the NPRM is to modernize, strengthen, and make more effective the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects that was promulgated as a Common Rule in 1991. The NPRM seeks comments on proposals to better protect human subjects involved in research, while facilitating valuable research and reducing burden, delay, and ambiguity for investigators.

The purpose of the Town Hall Meeting (agenda) is for OHRP, HHS agencies, and other Common Rule departments and agencies to provide responses to questions from the public about the NPRM in order to clarify the NPRM proposals and better inform public comment on the NPRM. The public will be able to ask questions during the Town Hall Meeting, and to submit questions before the meeting. Watch via webinar.

Public Town Hall Meeting 
October 20, 2015, 9 am to 5 pm
Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Great Hall
200 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20201

This PDF document (#2015-25564) contains details about the format of the public Town Hall Meeting and how to register or submit questions prior to the meeting.

Important deadlines:

  • While there is no registration fee, individuals planning to attend the Town Hall in person must register by 5:00 pm October 13, 2015. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and may be completed by sending an email to OHRP@hhs.gov, with the subject line “Registration for OHRP Town Hall Meeting.”
  • The deadline for submission of questions about the NPRM prior to the Town Hall Meeting must be received no later than 5:00 pm October 13, 2015.
  • Details on the NPRM are at the OHRP website. To be assured consideration, comments on the NPRM must be received no later than the extended deadline of January 6, 2016.

 

OHRP Offers Webinars on Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule


The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) has posted a series of six webinars explaining the recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding revisions to the Common Rule (the federal policy for human subjects protection). The presentations by policy experts can be viewed anytime; they cover the following topics:

  • Overview of the NPRM
  • Exclusions and exemptions
  • Informed consent
  • IRB review and operations
  • Research with biospecimens
  • Secondary research use of data

For more information on the NPRM, visit the OHRP website. The deadline for comments on the proposed revision has been extended to January 6, 2016.


Special Issue Published on Ethical & Regulatory Complexities of Pragmatic Clinical Trials


Tools for ResearchA new series of 12 articles published in a special issue of the journal Clinical Trials addresses ethical and regulatory challenges particular to pragmatic clinical research. Pragmatic clinical trials are designed to efficiently provide answers to important clinical questions, yet they present special challenges in conforming to the ethical and regulatory guidelines that were developed for more traditional clinical research. The special issue describes these challenges and begins to outline possible solutions that will protect the rights and welfare of research participants while allowing pragmatic clinical trials to gather much-needed evidence for informing healthcare decisions. An introductory article is followed by 11 articles addressing individual topics, such as alteration of informed consent, privacy, gatekeepers, and defining minimal risk research. The effort was funded by the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, with additional support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and involved diverse groups of stakeholders, including researchers, patient advocates, bioethicists, and regulatory experts. Robert M. Califf, MD, and Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, were editors of the special issue.

For more information:


Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM): Protection of Human Subjects


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and 15 other federal departments and agencies have announced proposed revisions to modernize, strengthen, and make more effective the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects that was promulgated as a Common Rule (45 CFR 46, Subpart A)  in 1991. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register on September 8, 2015 (see the press release).

The NPRM seeks comment on proposals to better protect human subjects involved in research, while facilitating valuable research and reducing burden, delay, and ambiguity for investigators. Comments must be received no later than the extended deadline of 5 pm on January 6, 2016. Visit the HHS page for a summary of the proposed changes and instructions on submitting or browsing comments.

Webinars are available explaining the changes proposed in the NPRM, and a town hall meeting is planned to be held in Washington, DC, in October.

Among the major changes being proposed in order to better protect research subjects and help build public trust are modifications to rules affecting patient informed consent. With regard to informed consent in general (such as consent to participate in a clinical trial), the rules would be significantly tightened to ensure that the process becomes more meaningful. Consent forms in particular would be affected. A common complaint about informed consent forms is that they are often unduly lengthy and cumbersome, with important information often buried and hard to find. Under the proposed changes, such documents would need to be streamlined in ways that provide appropriate details about the research that is most relevant to a person’s decision to participate in the study, such as information a reasonable person would want to know, and present that information in a way that highlights the key information.

The proposed modifications are designed to continue to uphold the ethical principles upon which the Common Rule is based, as applied to the current social, cultural, and technological environment. In brief, the most significant changes proposed in the NPRM include:

  1. Improve informed consent by increasing transparency and by imposing stricter new requirements regarding the information that must be given to prospective subjects.
  2. Generally require informed consent for the use of stored biospecimens in secondary research.
  3. Exclude from coverage under the Common Rule certain categories of activities that should be deemed not to be research, are inherently low risk, or where protections similar to those usually provided by IRB review are separately mandated.
  4. Add additional categories of exempt research to accommodate changes in the scientific landscape and to better calibrate the level of review to the level of risk involved in the research.
  5. Change the conditions and requirements for waiver or alteration of consent such that waiver of consent for research involving biospecimens (regardless of identifiability) will occur only in very rare circumstances.
  6. Mandate that U.S. institutions engaged in cooperative research rely on a single IRB for that portion of the research that takes place within the United States, with certain exceptions.
  7. Eliminate the continuing review requirement for studies that undergo expedited review and for studies that have completed study interventions and are merely analyzing data or involve only observational follow-up in conjunction with standard clinical care.
  8. Extend the scope of the policy to cover all clinical trials, regardless of funding source, conducted at a U.S. institution that receives federal funding for non-exempt human subjects research.