Regulating Research with Biospecimens under the Revised Common Rule

Hastings Center Report 47 (3):3-4 (2017)

Abstract

Since 2011, the research community had waited with bated breath as regulators contemplated for the first time bringing secondary research with nonidentifiable biospecimens under the Common Rule and dramatically tightening the criteria for waiving consent to biospecimen research. After considerable pushback from both researchers and patients and amid rumors of intractable disagreement among Common Rule agencies, the Final Rule published on the last day of President Obama's administration left out these troubling changes, and there was a collective sigh of relief. Relief is appropriate, but celebration premature: researchers have little reason to avail themselves of the new broad consent option offered in the Final Rule, and the question of whether biospecimens ought to be treated as inherently identifiable has merely been postponed.

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