A Census of Clinical Trials Conducted Under the US Exception from Informed Consent Rule

A Census of Clinical Trials Conducted Under the US Exception from Informed Consent Rule
Krista L. Snyder, Jon F. Merz
medRxiv, 24 August 2022
The US Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health adopted the Exception from Informed Consent (EFIC) rule in 1996, permitting waiver of informed consent for certain emergency research, including trials funded by the federal government. The rule requires that prospective consent be sought when practicable from patients or their Legally Authorized Representative(s) (LAR), and for those enrolled without consent, the patient or their LAR must be given information and an opportunity to opt-out from continued participation at the earliest opportunity. We sought to census the trials conducted under the EFIC rule to facilitate research to better understand how the rule is being used.
We conducted a multi-pronged search to try and identify all trials conducted under the EFIC rule, drawing on numerous reviews, Medline and Google searches (including of the clinicaltrials.gov registry), examination of the FDA’s docket, posting an inquiry on the IRB Forum, and email requests to lead authors of all published EFIC trials and related review articles. We describe the trials, when they were started and completed, and whether they were terminated early.
We identified a total of 105 trials as of April 1, 2022: 77 complete, 10 recruiting, 10 registered on clinicaltrials.gov but not yet recruiting, 5 trials that were abandoned before enrolling any subjects, and 3 trials in early planning. Nine of the 77 completed trials were pilot or feasibility trials. Of 68 completed full trials, 30 (44.1%) were terminated early. The most common reason for early termination was futility or safety (17 trials, 25.0%) followed by poor recruitment (9 trials, 13.2%). The rate of conduct of trials has been remarkably constant since 2001, with roughly 18 trials started in each 5-year period.
The rate of early termination of EFIC trials for futility or safety appears higher than for other kinds of clinical research. We provide the list of trials in a Supplement for further in-depth data collection and analysis of this set of trials.

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