Implementation of Japan’s First Clinical Research Regulatory Law: Background, Overview, and Challenges

HEC Forum 31 (4):283-294 (2019)
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Abstract

In April 2018, Japan’s first law regulating clinical research went into effect. The law aimed to strengthen regulations on research integrity and conflicts of interest, which had been limited under existing administrative guidelines; the law also provided stipulations for legal penalties. The scope of the new regulations, however, is limited entirely to studies that evaluate unapproved drugs or the off-label use of approved drugs, and those that receive funding from companies. On the other hand, the law’s application brings numerous complications, including the establishment of new review committees, troublesome procedures for transitioning studies that are currently underway, and ambiguities about the scope of what constitutes best efforts. Thus, the change has led to substantial strain and confusion in the field. This paper offers an overview of the law and its background, and discusses its future prospects from the practical standpoint of managing ethics committees and providing research ethics support in the field.

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