On December 3, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a draft policy to promote the use of single institutional review boards (IRB) in multi-site clinical research studies. The draft policy proposes that all NIH-funded multi-site studies carried out in the U.S. utilize a single IRB regardless of the funding mechanism. Hence, the agency is seeking public comments on the draft policy through a 60 day comment period closing January 29, 2015.
According to the release announcing the draft policy, exceptions would be allowed if local IRB review is necessary to meet the needs of special populations or where it is required by federal, state, or tribal laws and regulations. Wider use of single IRB review in multi-site studies is expected to help achieve greater efficiencies in the initiation of studies across NIH’s entire clinical research portfolio.
Several NIH institutes and centers, including the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have been supporting the use of a single IRB in multi-site studies. NIH director Francis Collins noted that the use of single IRBs in multi-site studies will “reduce duplication of effort, speed the initiation of important research, and save time and taxpayer funds.”