Regulating Human Participants Protection in Medical Research and the Accreditation of Medical Research Ethics Committees in the Netherlands
The review system on research with human participants in the Netherlands is characterised as a decentralised controlled and integrated peer review system. It consists of an independent governmental body, the Central Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (or Central Committee), which regulates the review of research proposals by accredited Medical Research Ethics Committees (MRECs). The legal basis was founded in 1999 with the Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act. The review system is a decentralised arrangement since most research proposal are reviewed by the 30 accredited MRECs in the country. It is a controlled system in which the Central Committee is responsible for the accreditation and oversight of the MRECs and can make legally binding directives for these committees. The assessment of research proposals is an integrated peer review process in which all documents of the research file are reviewed by experts in one committee only. A small number of research proposals are assessed by the Central Committee and not by accredited MRECs. These proposals are on specific research categories such as gene therapy, cell therapy and embryo research. The review of research with surplus human embryos is regulated separately in the Embryos Act. The Central Committee provides support to the accredited MRECs and to researchers and sponsors. It is currently developing an internet portal to reduce the bureaucracy and make the review process more efficient and transparent. The Central Committee stimulates confidence on medical research in society by providing a public trial registry with core data on reviewed research proposals.
KeywordsMedical research Clinical trial Accreditation Ethics Review Trial registry the Netherlands
Thanks to M. Al, J. Dute, and K. Wilson for their critical reading of this manuscript and helpful suggestions.
- Keim, B. (2007). Tied up in red tape, European trials shut down. Nat Med, 13, 110.Google Scholar
- Saunders, J. (2002). Research ethics committees—time for change? Clin Med, 2, 534–538.Google Scholar
- Stewart, P. M., Stears, A., Tomlinson, J. W., & Brown, M. J. (2008). Regulation—the real threat to clinical research. BMJ, 337, 1085–1087.Google Scholar