A bill is being prepared to provide for national research ethics committees.
The Government has said today that research ethics committees (RECs) are key to ensuring that health research is carried out to the ethical standards expected by society, so that there is public confidence in the methods used.
‘Innovation 2020’, Ireland’s strategy for research and development in science and technology, commits to “a quality focused research-active health system in Ireland”.
Over €150 million has been spent on clinical research and clinical trials infrastructure through the Health Research Board (HRB) alone.
The proposed new system will address concerns that have been raised by stakeholders over the last decade about the existing RECs system in Ireland for clinical trials and health research generally.
HRB chief executive Darrin Morrissey said: “The establishment of a single, cohesive national research ethics committee structure in Ireland is long overdue.
“It will help grow health research and clinical trial activity that will benefit people’s health and patient care, as well as underpinning health innovation and economic growth in Ireland.”
The Health Products Regulatory Authority also welcomed the bill.
RECs will review proposed studies with human participants to ethical guidelines, monitor studies once they have begun, and follow-up with surveillance after the end of the research.
Committees can approve or refuse to give ethical approval to research studies, or require modifications to research protocols.