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Med J Aust. 2016 Apr 4;204(6):231-3.

Serious adverse event reporting in investigator-initiated clinical trials.

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Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, VIC
Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
St John of God Perth Northern Hospitals, Perth, WA.
Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


Reporting adverse events (AEs) and serious AEs (SAEs) are practical steps to ensure safety for volunteers and patients in medical research involving medications, treatments and devices. However, the burden and cost of reporting should be proportionate with the public health benefit of this information. Unfortunately, in Australia there is clear evidence of ever-increasing requirements from sponsors and ethics committees to report AEs and SAEs unnecessarily, leading to a decrease in the uptake of research, particularly less well funded investigator-initiated trials. We believe that individual AE reports to ethics committees serve no useful purpose, because in most cases the study group identity (drug exposure) is not known in studies with blinded treatment arms and their value is limited. Pragmatic, investigator-initiated Phase IV clinical trials of post-marketed drugs or devices are needed to understand their role in everyday clinical practice. In this setting, the workload and costs of systematic, complete reporting of all AEs and SAEs (independent of whether these are treatment-related) is wasteful, and mostly unnecessary. A trial data safety and monitoring committee is in the unique position of being able to review safety information according to the blinded treatment arms of the study. This enables safety data to be analysed appropriately and a summary report provided to the trial steering committee, principal investigators and the relevant ethics committees in a meaningful way. Defined trial endpoints do not need to be reported as safety events (because they are being properly monitored and analysed).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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