Reforming the Oversight of Multi-Site Clinical Research: A Review of Two Possible Solutions
Nowak, Kristin S.
Bankert, Elizabeth A.
Nelson, Robert M.
Accountability in Research 2006 January-March; 13(1): 11-24
The current system for the ethical oversight of clinical research suffers from structural, procedural, and performance assessment problems. Initially conceived primarily to handle local investigator-initiated single-site studies, the system of institutionally-based committee review has become progressively more inefficient given the increased prevalence of commercially or federally sponsored multi-center trials. To date, proposed solutions do not adequately address these problems. Beginning with a review of these structural, procedural, and performance assessment problems, this article will then consider two proposals for addressing these deficiencies: (a) regional ethics organizations; and (b) IRBNet, a newly developed web-based program for cooperative IRB review. The strengths and weaknesses of these two approaches will be evaluated in light of recent experience with centralized review. The proposal to establish a system of regional ethics organizations presents a comprehensive approach to many of the problems faced by the current system. However, IRBNet offers an immediate and feasible solution to many of the problems faced by the review of multi-site clinical studies.
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