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Good Clinical Practice (GCP) is an international ethical and scientific quality standard for designing, conducting, recording and reporting clinical trials that involve the participation of human subjects.1
Regardless of whether a clinical trial is a large, multi-centre study in patients or a small clinical pharmacological study in healthy subjects, the relevant GCP standard should be followed by the sponsoring company of the healthcare product, the investigators, the ethics committees and any clinical research organizations.
Companies undertaking a clinical trial should develop written procedures for implementing GCP.2 Such procedures may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Prior to the GCP guidance document developed by the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH), different jurisdictions had different guidelines relating to the conduct of clinical trials. With the introduction of ICH GCP, the conduct of clinical trials globally has become more uniform and practicable. Today, the implementation of ICH good clinical practice in most jurisdictions is reasonably similar and the vast majority of the regulations are the same.
Despite the effort of ICH, there still exists some local differences. For example, the US no longer adheres to the Declaration of Helsinki in its entirety, because the declaration considers placebo-controlled trials unethical in cases where an active drug is available. New privacy regulations in the EU and the financial disclosure requirements in the US are also making the clinical trial landscape more complicated.3,4 Healthcare product developers should therefore work to ICH in the context of local regulations.
The regulations, guidance and industry standards that make up Good Clinical Practice are intended to provide assurance that the rights, safety and well-being of clinical trial subjects are protected. GCP is also intended to assure that the research yields quality scientific data. 5-7 Fundamentally, Good Clinical Practice requires:
The ICH GCP lays out the responsibilities of the ethics committees, sponsors and investigators.
The core principles of ICH Good Clinical Practice are presented below1,5.
|Ethical principles: Declaration of Helsinki||Clinical trials should be conducted in accordance with the ethical principles that have their origin in the Declaration of Helsinki and that are consistent with GCP and applicable regulatory requirement(s).|
|Favourable benefit(s) vs. risk(s)||Before a clinical trial is initiated, foreseeable risks and inconveniences should be weighed against the anticipated benefit for the individual trial subject and society. A clinical trial should be initiated and continued only if the anticipated benefits justify the risks.|
|Subject’s rights||The rights, safety and well-being of the trial subjects override the interests of science and society.|
|Adequate supporting data||The available non-clinical and clinical information on an investigational product should be adequate to support the proposed clinical trial.|
|Scientifically sound protocol||Clinical trials should be scientifically sound and described in a clear, detailed protocol.|
|Independent ethics committee oversight||A trial should be conducted in compliance with the protocol that has received prior institutional review board (IRB)/independent ethics committee (IEC) approval or favourable opinion.|
|Medical care by qualified investigator||The medical care given to subjects, and the medical decisions made on their behalf, should always be the responsibility of a qualified physician or, when appropriate, a qualified dentist.|
|Qualified personnel||Each individual involved in conducting a clinical trial should be qualified by education, training and experience to do their respective task(s).|
|Informed consent||Freely-given informed consent should be obtained from every subject prior to participation in the clinical trial.|
|Record-keeping||All clinical trial information should be recorded, handled and stored in a way that allows its accurate reporting, interpretation and verification.|
|Subject confidentiality||The confidentiality of records that could identify subjects should be protected―respecting the privacy and confidentiality rules in accordance with the applicable regulatory requirement(s).|
|GMP manufacturing of the investigational product||Investigational products should be manufactured, handled and stored in accordance with applicable Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). They should be used in accordance with the approved protocol.|
|Quality assurance & monitoring||Systems with procedures that assure the quality of every aspect of the clinical trial should be implemented.|
For further reading, key documents related to GCP are listed below.
* A product information brochure, package leaflet or labelling may be an appropriate alternative as permitted by regulatory agencies.
The information presented in these articles is intended to outline the general processes, principles and concepts of the healthcare product development lifecycle. Since regulatory requirements are ever-changing, it is current only as of the date of publication and not intended to provide detailed instructions for product development. Every healthcare product is unique and therefore so is its associated product development lifecycle. Specific advice should be sought from a qualified healthcare or other appropriate professional.
Published: October 17, 2012