FDA announces new initiative to modernize regulation of clinical trials

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a series of new policy and regulatory developments to strengthen the Agency's oversight and protection of patients in clinical trials and the integrity of resulting data in an effort to modernize the agency's approach to bioresearch monitoring as part of the Critical Path Initiative.

The Human Subject Protection and Bioresearch Monitoring ( HSP /BIMO) Initiative will facilitate the modernization of the regulation of clinical trials and bioresearch monitoring, specifically the protection of human subjects and the integrity of data in clinical trials, and encompasses devices, foods, human drugs, biological drug products and veterinary medicine.

The new effort is part of an HHS -wide initiative to employ recent advances in basic science, including genomics and molecular analysis, in order to bring about more effective development and review of therapies, and to enable increasingly targeted and individualized care management for patients.

"As clinical trials continue to evolve, in particular becoming increasingly large, decentralized and global, the FDA's approach to bioresearch monitoring and human subject protection must also evolve and modernize," said Janet Woodcock, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Operations at this year's Drug Information Association annual meeting. "BIMO will help FDA modernize biomedical research monitoring making the most efficient use of its resources to help ensure the safe conduct of clinical trials, including taking appropriate opportunities to leverage existing oversight done by private entities to accomplish the Agency's risk minimization goals."

Clinical trials have evolved dramatically since FDA first began inspecting them in 1977. In an effort to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects and to verify the quality and integrity of data submitted for review, FDA established over time a bioresearch monitoring program that included the development and implementation of compliance programs to provide guidance for inspections of investigators, sponsors, contract research organizations, institutional review boards and bioequivalence facilities. With the expansion of clinical trial studies and sites, electronic record-keeping in the studies, and greater participation by vulnerable subjects in clinical trials, the role of FDA's bioresearch monitoring compliance programs must expand and evolve as well. The HSP /BIMO Initiative addresses that need.

Over the past year and a half, FDA has carefully inventoried its programs and identified issues to launch the HSP /BIMO Initiative. As this initiative moves forward, FDA will continue to gather additional issues for the initiative and related information from internal and external stakeholders, e.g., industry, academic, and government activities and programs, and intends to conduct workshops and create other opportunities for public input.

Janet Woodcock, M.D., Deputy Commissioner for Operations, will chair the HSP /BIMO steering committee which is comprised of representatives from the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), Center for Food, Safety, and Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine ( CVM ), Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), and the Office of the Commissioner (OC).

Highlights of what has been completed to date include:

  • Draft Guidance; Process for Handling Referrals to FDA Under 21 CFR 50.54; Additional Safeguards for Children in Clinical Investigations, published May 2006
  • Guidance for Industry – Using a Centralized IRB Process in Multicenter Clinical Trials, published in March 2006
  • Guidance for Clinical Trial Sponsors: Establishment and Operation of Clinical Trial Data Monitoring Committees, published in March 2006
  • Information Sheet Guidances for IRBs, Clinical Investigators, and Sponsors, five published in final January 2006

Projects in progress:

  • Modernizing adverse event reporting to institutional review boards (IRBs) to accommodate major trend toward multicenter trials (March 2005, held Part 15 Hearing – Adverse Event Reporting to IRBs, currently working on draft guidance)
  • Published proposed rule: Institutional Review Board – Registration Requirements, FDA reviewing comments
  • Finalizing rule: Foreign Clinical Studies not Conducted Under an IND (21 CFR 312.120)


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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