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Reporting to the IRB: Investigator Noncompliance

While the regulations governing clinical research refer to “noncompliance” several times, the term is not actually defined in the regulations. This leaves it up to individual institutional review boards (IRBs) to establish a definition, policies/procedures, and reporting requirements for sponsors, contract research organizations (CROs), and investigative sites to follow.

Understandably, this can cause confusion for researchers working with multiple IRBs. It’s important to make sure you’re familiar with your IRB’s reporting requirements—and if you’re not sure, it’s always appropriate to reach out to the IRB for clarification.

A Definition of Investigator Noncompliance

While no official regulatory definition is available, we wanted to provide some examples to assist the research community. Here are the definitions Advarra’s IRB has established:

Consistent with other reportable events, Advarra expects noncompliance reports be submitted as soon as possible, no later than two weeks or 10 business days from the time of the event.

While these examples are unique to Advarra’s IRB, they were developed based on best practices and in consultation with other IRB professionals.

IRB Noncompliance Reporting Requirements

In addition to reporting the noncompliance event, some IRBs may require the report to also include information like:

Again, check with your IRB to understand the specific reporting requirements. When working with Advarra, your best source for this kind of information is the IRB Handbook, available in the Reference Materials section of the Advarra Center for IRB Intelligence (CIRBI) Platform.

Reports and allegations of noncompliance will be evaluated by the IRB and can result in an action up to and including suspension or termination of IRB approval. Any report of noncompliance determined by the IRB to be serious or continuing, or any determination to suspend or terminate IRB approval, will be reported to the appropriate regulatory agency.

When in doubt, it’s best to report noncompliance concerns to the IRB and allow it to make an appropriate determination to ensure the rights and welfare of research participants are adequately protected.

Note: This article was originally published December 4, 2019, and has been updated to include new and clarifying information.

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