ICH-GCP states that it is an ethical standard for the design and conduct of research, but close inspection of the guideline leads to the conclusion that it is concerned with the process of ethics, specifically, the process of ethical review rather than the core principles of ethics. This is a pity because the principles that underpin research ethics are essentially straightforward and easy to grasp. I will try to outline them here.
I started writing this piece a few weeks back on holiday in the Algarve. It’s a follow on to the last piece on mindlessly following a recipe rather than thinking what matters when doing a trial. This time it looks at the value of simplicity.
I went for a quick run this morning before it got too hot. When I got back to our villa I jumped straight in the shower. Ten minutes later I was sitting down with a coffee chatting with my wife about what we might do today.
What the hell does this have to do with randomised trials I guess you might well be thinking?
This is a personal perspective on what I think is one of the fundamental problems with the whole paradigm of how we regulate randomised trials. This is the mindless following of instructions rather than thinking about what matters to do a trial well.
My colleague Trudie Lang is the nearest thing I know to a superhero. Bounding with energy and enthusiasm, which is something of a necessity as she does trials in some of the poorest places around the world and frequently does that research in the eye of the storm of a major disease outbreak. First Ebola and now Zika have taken up most of her time so that if you try to find her in Oxford she probably won’t be there. She is one of the driving forces behind MoreTrials.
The success or not of a trial ultimately depends upon two key groups: The participants who take part and the clinic staff that take care of them, so training these staff well really matters.