Implementing Regulatory Broad Consent Under the Revised Common Rule: Clarifying Key Points and the Need for Evidence

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 47 (2):213-231 (2019)
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The revised Common Rule includes a new option for the conduct of secondary research with identifiable data and biospecimens: regulatory broad consent. Motivated by concerns regarding autonomy and trust in the research enterprise, regulators had initially proposed broad consent in a manner that would have rendered it the exclusive approach to secondary research with all biospecimens, regardless of identifiability. Based on public comments from both researchers and patients concerned that this approach would hinder important medical advances, however, regulators decided to largely preserve the status quo approach to secondary research with biospecimens and data. The Final Rule therefore allows such research to proceed without specific informed consent in a number of circumstances, but it also offers regulatory broad consent as a new, optional pathway for secondary research with identifiable data and biospecimens. In this article, we describe the parameters of regulatory broad consent under the new rule, explain why researchers and research institutions are unlikely to utilize it, outline recommendations for regulatory broad consent issued by the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, and sketch an empirical research agenda for the sorts of questions about regulatory broad consent that remain to be answered as the research community embarks on Final Rule implementation.



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