Friday, November 7, 2014

Just what is a clinical trial, anyway?

In a recent notice, NIH revised its definition of "clinical trial".  This change was made in a effort to better distinguish between clinical research studies and clinical trials, to ensure that the appropriate level of oversight is provided to each type of project.  This new definition will apply to competing grant applications with deadlines of January 25, 2015 and beyond. 

The new NIH clinical trial definition is as follows:
A research study1 in which one or more human subjects2 are prospectively assigned3 to one or more interventions4 (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.5
1See Common Rule definition of research at 45 CFR 46.102(d).

2See Common Rule definition of human subject at 45 CFR 46.102(f).

3The term “prospectively assigned” refers to a pre-defined process (e.g., randomization) specified in an approved protocol that stipulates the assignment of research subjects (individually or in clusters) to one or more arms (e.g., intervention, placebo, or other control) of a clinical trial.

4An intervention is defined as a manipulation of the subject or subject’s environment for the purpose of modifying one or more health-related biomedical or behavioral processes and/or endpoints. Examples include: drugs/small molecules/compounds; biologics; devices; procedures (e.g., surgical techniques); delivery systems (e.g., telemedicine, face-to-face interviews); strategies to change health-related behavior (e.g., diet, cognitive therapy, exercise, development of new habits); treatment strategies; prevention strategies; and, diagnostic strategies.

5Health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome is defined as the pre-specified goal(s) or condition(s) that reflect the effect of one or more interventions on human subjects’ biomedical or behavioral status or quality of life. Examples include: positive or negative changes to physiological or biological parameters (e.g., improvement of lung capacity, gene expression); positive or negative changes to psychological or neurodevelopmental parameters (e.g., mood management intervention for smokers; reading comprehension and /or information retention); positive or negative changes to disease processes; positive or negative changes to health-related behaviors; and, positive or negative changes to quality of life.

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