Bioethics Blogs

Dr. Celia B. Fisher Contributes to National Discussion on Ethical Review & Oversight Issues in Research

Common clinical practices might lack a robust evidence base if there have not been empirical interventional research studies to compare an array of available routine or standard treatment options. Fordham University Center for Ethics Education Director Dr. Celia B. Fisher, an internationally renowned expert on empirical research on research ethics, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in an Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop aimed to inform practice and policy of regulated research studies involving standard of care interventions.

Clinical trials that study these “standard of care” interventions examine and compare treatments that fall within the range of what is considered usual clinical practice. The goal is to gather evidence that can be used when selecting a particular intervention.

The Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Research Subjects, known as the “Common Rule,” governs the ethical oversight of human participation in research, including standards for informed consent and procedures for research ethics review bodies, i.e., Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). Under the Common Rule, IRBs are responsible for overseeing clinical trials to ensure that the safety, well-being and rights of trial participants are protected. In addition, the IRB also oversees the process of obtaining informed consent, so that participants understand the risks and possible benefits of the trial before deciding whether to enroll.

Recently, questions have arisen about the key aspects of standard of care trials, including how to define reasonably foreseeable risks, and how to include in the consent process enough information about the risks and benefits of being in a trial of standard interventions.  The aim of the recent IOM workshop was to bring together key stakeholders — including Dr.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.