November 13, 2018: Summary of Workshop on Pragmatic Trials of Therapeutic A vs B Interventions Now Available

The NIH Collaboratory recently convened a workshop to explore embedded pragmatic clinical trials comparing two or more therapeutic medical interventions. These “A vs B” trials are meant to test existing, viable treatment alternatives where there is uncertainty about which treatment is best in which populations. There are unique barriers that make these types of pragmatic trials especially challenging to implement. For the workshop, a panel of experts gathered to discuss challenges and solutions regarding partnering with healthcare systems to conduct the trials, unique legal and ethical issues, and design and operational considerations. The summary of the workshop is now available: Workshop Summary: Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Therapeutic A vs. B Interventions

 

Additional Resources:

Embedded pragmatic clinical trials of therapeutic A vs. B interventions workshop videocast.

 

February 5, 2018: Clinical Effectiveness Research Innovation Collaborative (CERIC) Aims to Streamline Oversight for Learning Activities

One of the Clinical Effectiveness Research Innovation Collaborative (CERIC) group’s priority actions is to create a supportive regulatory environment for learning activities that aim to provide evidence for healthcare improvement. In support of this goal, the National Academy of Medicine hosted a day-long meeting on January 25, 2018, to propose and communicate streamlined approaches for oversight of learning activities, informed consent, and privacy protection. The meeting attendees included key representatives from health systems, institutional review boards, patient groups, the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), and privacy experts. Dr. Richard Platt is a co-chair of the collaborative, and Dr. Jeremy Sugarman was part of a panel on the revisions to the Common Rule. Background materials for the meeting included articles from the Collaboratory Regulatory/Ethics Core’s special series in Clinical Trials.  Meeting attendees sought to clarify regulatory barriers to embedding continuous learning activities in health systems, practices, and health plans and also to suggest possible solutions that would help streamline approaches in support of an enduring learning health system.

Participants discussed the grey area between quality improvement and research, and the differences in regulations for each. One critical issue that was identified is that the foundations of the current regulatory environment are built on the Belmont Report, a forty-year old document originally intended to prevent incidents like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study from ever happening again. While the ethical principles in the Belmont Report—respect for persons, beneficence, and justice—are still relevant today, much has changed since the original writing of the document. Healthcare is increasingly complex and conducted in a digital world, and bold ideas may be needed to create an alternate system for the betterment of all. Next steps for the group include the creation of a document that describes a framework for learning activities and includes a series of case examples for OHRP to review in order to provide clarification and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

 

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 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.

 

FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Use of Electronic Informed Consent (eIC)


On March 9, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance on the Use of Electronic Informed Consent in Clinical Investigations (document opens as a PDF). In a question-and-answer format, the guidance provides recommendations for investigators, sponsors, and institutional review boards (IRBs) on the use of electronic media and processes to obtain informed consent for FDA-regulated clinical investigations of medical products, including human drug and biological products, and medical devices, and combinations thereof.

Electronic informed consent, or eIC, refers to the use of electronic systems and processes to convey information related to the study and to obtain and document informed consent. Electronic media formats may include text, graphics, audio, video, podcasts, and interactive websites, biological recognition devices, and card readers. Use of electronic systems may allow for rapid notification to study participants of any amendments pertaining to the informed consent, promote timely entry of eIC data into the study database, and allow for timely collection of the informed consent data from remote locations.

The guidance provides answers to these questions:

  • How should the information in the eIC be presented to the subject?
  • How and where may the eIC process be conducted?
  • How and when should questions from subjects be answered?
  • What steps may be taken to facilitate the subject’s understanding of the information being presented?
  • What steps may be taken to ensure that new or additional information is conveyed to the subject during the course of the clinical investigation?
  • Does FDA allow the use of electronic signatures to document eIC?
  • What special considerations should be given to the use of eIC for pediatric studies?
  • Should subjects receive a copy of their eIC and have easy access to the material and information presented to them in their eIC?
  • What steps can be taken to help ensure confidentiality of the information once eIC is obtained?
  • Can HIPAA authorizations for research, which are frequently combined with informed consent documents, be obtained electronically?
  • What are the IRB’s responsibilities in the eIC process?
  • What eIC documentation does FDA require for submission with applications?
  • What steps can be taken to ensure the system archives the documents appropriately?
  • What materials or documents will FDA require during an inspection?

The comment period ends May 7, 2015. Users can submit electronic comments using the docket number HHS-OPHS-2015-0002 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.


Report from NIH Collaboratory Workshop Examines Ethical and Regulatory Challenges for Pragmatic Cluster Randomized Trials

A new article by researchers from the NIH Collaboratory, published online this week in the journal Clinical Trials, explores some of the challenges facing physicians, scientists, and patient groups who are working to develop innovative methods for performing clinical trials. In the article, authors Monique Anderson, MD, Robert Califf, MD, and Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, MA, describe and summarize discussions from a Collaboratory workshop on ethical and regulatory issues relating to pragmatic cluster-randomized trials.


Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized Trials

Many of the clinical trials that evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new therapies do so by assigning individual volunteers to receive either an experimental treatment or a comparator, such as an existing alternative treatment, or a placebo. However, this process can be complex, expensive, and slow to yield results. Further, because these studies often take place in specialized research settings and involve patients who have been carefully screened, there are  concerns that the results gathered from such trials may not be fully applicable to “real-world” patient populations.

For these reasons, some researchers, patients, and patient advocacy groups are interested in exploring different methods for conducting clinical trials, including designs known as pragmatic cluster-randomized trials, or CRTs. In a pragmatic CRT, groups of individuals (such as a clinic, hospital, or even an entire health system) are randomly assigned to receive one of two or more interventions being compared, with a focus on answering questions about therapies in the setting of actual clinical practice—the “pragmatic” part of “pragmatic CRT.”

Pragmatic CRTs have the potential to answer important questions quickly and less expensively, especially in an era in which patient data can be accessed directly from electronic health records. Just as importantly, that knowledge can then be fed back to support a “learning healthcare system” that is constantly improving in its approach to patient care.  However, while cluster-randomized trials are not themselves new, their widespread use in patient-care settings raises a number of potential challenges.

For example: in a typical individually randomized clinical trial, patients are enrolled in a study only after first providing written informed consent. However, in a CRT, the entire hospital may be assigned to provide a given therapy. In such a situation, how should informed consent be handled? How should patients be notified that research is taking place, and that they may be part of it? Will they be able to “opt out” of the research? What will happen to the data collected during their treatment? And what do federal regulations governing clinical trials have to say about this? These are just a few of the questions raised by the use of pragmatic CRTs in patient-care settings.


The NIH Collaboratory Workshop on Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized Trials

The NIH Collaboratory Workshop of Pragmatic CRTs, held in Bethesda, Maryland in July of 2103, convened a panel of experts in clinical trials, research ethics, and regulatory issues to outline the challenges associated with conducting  pragmatic CRTs and to explore ways for better understanding and overcoming them. Over the course of the intensive 1-day workshop, conference participants identified key areas for focused attention. These included issues relating to informed consent, patient privacy, oversight of research activities, insuring the integrity of data gathered during pragmatic CRTs, and special protections for vulnerable patient populations. The article by Anderson and colleagues provides a distillation of discussions that took place at the workshop, as well as noting possible directions for further work.

In the coming months and years, the NIH Collaboratory and its partners, including the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), plan to build on this workshop experience. Together, they hope to explore these issues in greater detail and propose practical steps for moving forward with innovative clinical research methods, while at the same time maintaining robust protections for patients’ rights and well-being.


Jonathan McCall, MS, and Karen Staman, MS, contributed to this post.


Read the full text of the article here:

Anderson ML, Califf RM, Sugarman J. Ethical and regulatory issues of pragmatic cluster randomized trials in contemporary health systems. Clin Trials 2015 [e-Pub ahead of press].
doi:10.1177/1740774515571140 
For further reading:

Tunis SR, Stryer DB, Clancy CM. Practical clinical trials: Increasing the value of clinical research decision making in clinical and health policy. JAMA 2003;290(12):1624-32. PMID:14506122; doi:10.1001/jama.290.12.1624.

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Ethical Issues in Cluster Randomized Trials Wiki.

Special Report: Ethical Oversight of Learning Health Systems. Hastings Center Report 2013;43(s1):S2–S44, Si–Sii.

Sugarman J, Califf RM. Ethics and regulatory complexities for pragmatic clinical trials. JAMA 2014;311(23):2381-2. PMID: 24810723; doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.4164.

2015 International Compilation of Human Research Standards Released


The 2015 edition of the International Compilation of Human Research Standards is now available. Compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office for Human Research Protections, the document indexes more than 1,000 laws, regulations, and guidelines governing human subjects research in over 100 countries.

The compilation includes direct links to many of the laws, regulations, and guidelines, and serves as a resource for researchers, institutional review boards (IRBs), research sponsors, and others involved in human subjects research worldwide.

The 2015 edition includes hundreds of updates, including the addition of six new countries (Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Sierra Leone).

Access the 2015 compilation here

Content is organized in the following topics:
 1. General
 2. Drugs and Devices
 3. Research Injury
 4. Privacy/Data Protection
 5. Human Biological Materials
 6. Genetic
 7. Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning

PCORI Executive Director Dr. Joe Selby to Speak on Regulatory Issues Concerning Big Data


The meeting of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Human Research Protections (SACHRP) scheduled for July 21-22, 2014, will include a session on “Regulatory Issues Concerning Big Data.” Joe Selby, MD, MPH, executive director of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), will speak, along with leaders from the NIH and FDA. The session is scheduled for 1:30-3:45 pm on Monday, July 21.

SACHRP provides recommendations on human subjects protection to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and reviews activities of the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). Other topics to be covered during the two-day meeting include informed consent comprehension, the return of research results to human subjects, and ethical/regulatory issues in interventional social media research.

The meeting is available to the public and will be videocast live.

View the meeting agenda
View the live webcast (available July 21-22, 2014)

A link to materials from the meeting will be provided in an update to this post when available.