A risk adapted approach to the governance of clinical trials

Research output: Other contribution


A risk adapted approach, like such initiative by the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), described by RL Smyth (BMJ 2011;343:d6756), seems reasonable and helpful to manage the issues of insurance and to reduce the costs in the regulation of clinical trials. The Clinical Trial Directive 2001/20/EC (1) states that the liability of the investigator or sponsor for possible injury or death of the subjects has to be covered by insurance or indemnity. From March 2010, Italian investigators and Research Ethics Committees(RECs) have been facing a new difficulty due to a recent Ministerial Decree (2) that obliges the investigator or the sponsor of a clinical trial to provide specific, very expensive, insurance coverage. Without this specific insurance coverage, the RECs cannot approve a trial. This regulation is a challenge for “non–commercial” trials promoted by clinical investigators of the academic and/or National Healthcare System institutions. Particularly, this concern regards clinical trials that typically investigate (also through comparative studies) the therapeutic value and/or safety of products used according to their licensed indications in the EU. Really, many of these studies would always result in a “very minimal” risk or “no greater than” of those of current clinical settings, or, finally, risks are not greater than an off-label product utilized in clinical practice. Perhaps, for this reason in Italy in 2010, after this Ministerial Decree, the non-commercial clinical trials and all the phase IV clinical trials are decreased, especially compared to two previous years 2008-2009: 229 non-profit studies in 2010 vs. 309 (2009) and 362 (2008); 77 phase IV clinical studies in 2010 vs. 124 (2009) and 104 (2008). (3) Moreover, the Concept Paper put out for public consultation for the revision of the Directive 2001/20/EC (4) states that the clinical trials have very different risk-profiles. In our opinion, it would be necessary to calibrate the requirements for the insurance coverage through the risk assessment of all aspects of clinical trial: risks associated with the investigational medicinal products; risks of clinical procedures; risks related to inclusion criteria. This could be helpful in identifying potential vulnerabilities of the clinical trial; setting up tailored monitoring plans to minimize risks, and a proportionate insurance coverage in case of harm due to the clinical trial. The clinical research community needs to support this risk-adapted approach to reduce costs and bureaucracy of clinical research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • clinical trials
  • ethics
  • risk


Dive into the research topics of 'A risk adapted approach to the governance of clinical trials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this