In an effort to streamline multisite clinical research, the National Institutes of Health announced a new policy related to the use of institutional review boards (IRBs).
The new policy sets “the expectation that multisite studies conducting the same protocol use a single IRB to carry out the ethical review of the proposed research,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, said in a June 21 statement. The policy goes into effect May 25, 2017, and applies only to domestic research.
Currently, for most multisite studies, the IRB at each site conducts an independent review of protocol and consent documents, which Dr. Collins said “adds time, but generally does not meaningfully enhance protections for the participants. This new NIH policy seeks to end duplicative reviews that slow down the start of the research.”
Michael Pichichero, MD, director of the research institute, Rochester (N.Y.) General Hospital, called the change “a good policy. Allowing a single IRB to review and not go through multiple reviews will help get clinical trials going faster,” he said in an interview. “The policies and principles of IRB review are the same for all U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved IRBs, so the concern that inappropriate approval might be given is highly unlikely.”