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Expedited Review Process

May 2005

In 1998, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS 45 CFR 46.110) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA 21 CFR 56.110) regulations were revised with regard to categories of research that may be reviewed by an expedited review procedure. The list of research categories eligible for an expedited review was expanded and clarified.

The following two criteria must be met before a protocol may be considered for an expedited review process:

  1. The activity must present no more than minimal risk to subjects. The regulatory definition of "minimal risk" is the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.
  2. The protocol procedures must be listed as one of the categories in the regulations' list of procedures that qualify for an expedited review process. The Research Categories that may qualify for an expedited review process are listed below. Additional information may be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/policy/index.html or http://www.clinicalresearchresources.com/

The following actions may be taken on new applications that qualify for an expedited review process: 

The investigator must be aware of the following information regarding expedited research:

  • The categories in the expedited research list apply regardless of the age of subjects, except as noted.
  • The expedited review procedure may not be used where identification of the subjects and/or their responses would reasonably place them at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subjects in terms of financial standing, employability, insurability, reputation, or be stigmatizing, unless reasonable and appropriate protections will be implemented so that risks related to invasion of privacy and breach of confidentiality are no greater than minimal.
  • The expedited review procedure may not be used for classified research involving human subjects.
  • The standard requirements for informed consent (or its waiver, alteration, or exception) apply regardless of the type of review (expedited or convened) utilized by the IRB.
  • Categories one (1) through seven (7) pertain to both initial and continuing IRB review.

The list of research categories eligible for an expedited review:

 (1) Clinical studies of drugs and medical devices only when condition (a) or (b) is met.

(a) Research on drugs for which an investigational new drug application (21 CFR Part 312) is not required. (Note: Research on marketed drugs that significantly increases the risks or decreases the acceptability of the risks associated with the use of the product is not eligible for expedited review.)

(b) Research on medical devices for which (i) an investigational device exemption application (21 CFR Part 812) is not required; or (ii) the medical device is cleared/approved for marketing and the medical device is being used in accordance with its cleared/approved labeling.  Note:  This category includes in vitro diagnostic devices.  Organization policy requires review of these studies in accordance with Policy No. FDA 50.1.

(2) Collection of blood samples by finger stick, heel stick, ear stick, or venipuncture as follows:

(a) from healthy, nonpregnant adults who weigh at least 110 pounds. For these subjects, the amounts drawn may not exceed 550 ml in an 8 week period and collection may not occur more frequently than 2 times per week; or

(b) from other adults and children2, considering the age, weight, and health of the subjects, the collection procedure, the amount of blood to be collected, and the frequency with which it will be collected. For these subjects, the amount drawn may not exceed the lesser of 50 ml or 3 ml per kg in an 8 week period and collection may not occur more frequently than 2 times per week.

(3) Prospective collection of biological specimens for research purposes by noninvasive means.

Examples: (a) hair and nail clippings in a nondisfiguring manner; (b) deciduous teeth at time of exfoliation or if routine patient care indicates a need for extraction; (c) permanent teeth if routine patient care indicates a need for extraction; (d) excreta and external secretions (including sweat); (e) uncannulated saliva collected either in an unstimulated fashion or stimulated by chewing gumbase or wax or by applying a dilute citric solution to the tongue; (f) placenta removed at delivery; (g) amniotic fluid obtained at the time of rupture of the membrane prior to or during labor; (h) supra- and subgingival dental plaque and calculus, provided the collection procedure is not more invasive than routine prophylactic scaling of the teeth and the process is accomplished in accordance with accepted prophylactic techniques; (i) mucosal and skin cells collected by buccal scraping or swab, skin swab, or mouth washings; (j) sputum collected after saline mist nebulization.

(4) Collection of data through noninvasive procedures (not involving general anesthesia or sedation) routinely employed in clinical practice, excluding procedures involving x-rays or microwaves. Where medical devices are employed, they must be cleared/approved for marketing. (Studies intended to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the medical device are not generally eligible for expedited review, including studies of cleared medical devices for new indications.)

Examples: (a) physical sensors that are applied either to the surface of the body or at a distance and do not involve input of significant amounts of energy into the subject or an invasion of the subject's privacy; (b) weighing or testing sensory acuity; (c) magnetic resonance imaging; (d) electrocardiography, electroencephalography, thermography, detection of naturally occurring radioactivity, electroretinography, ultrasound, diagnostic infrared imaging, doppler blood flow, and echocardiography; (e) moderate exercise, muscular strength testing, body composition assessment, and flexibility testing where appropriate given the age, weight, and health of the individual.

(5) Research involving materials (data, documents, records, or specimens) that have been collected, or will be collected solely for nonresearch purposes (such as medical treatment or diagnosis). (NOTE: Some research in this category may be exempt from the HHS regulations for the protection of human subjects. 45 CFR 46.101(b)(4). This listing refers only to research that is not exempt.)

(6) Collection of data from voice, video, digital, or image recordings made for research purposes.

(7) Research on individual or group characteristics or behavior (including, but not limited to, research on perception, cognition, motivation, identity, language, communication, cultural beliefs or practices, and social behavior) or research employing survey, interview, oral history, focus group, program evaluation, human factors evaluation, or quality assurance methodologies. (NOTE: Some research in this category may be exempt from the HHS regulations for the protection of human subjects. 45 CFR 46.101(b)(2) and (b)(3). This listing refers only to research that is not exempt.)

Click here to link to the eIRB Expedited Wizard. Answer the questions to determine whether or not your new study is a candidate for expedited review.

(8) Continuing review of research previously approved by the convened IRB as follows:

(a) where (i) the research is permanently closed to the enrollment of new subjects; (ii) all subjects have completed all research-related interventions; and (iii) the research remains active only for long-term follow-up of subjects; or

(b) where no subjects have been enrolled and no additional risks have been identified; or

(c) where the remaining research activities are limited to data analysis.

(9) Continuing review of research, not conducted under an investigational new drug application or investigational device exemption where categories two (2) through eight (8) do not apply but the IRB has determined and documented at a convened meeting that the research involves no greater than minimal risk and no additional risks have been identified.

The final decision on whether an expedited review process may be used rests with the IRB.

The expedited review process requires submission of a JHM-IRB NEW Application. All required information must be provided before staff will set up an application form an expedited review.

An expedited review procedure consists of a review of research involving human subjects by the IRB chairperson or by one or more experienced reviewers designated by the chairperson from among members of the IRB in accordance with the requirements set forth in 45 CFR 46.110. The expedited review process is conducted at an IRB expedited review session. The application is reviewed by staff, in consultation with the Chair as needed, to determine if an expedited review process may be conducted. If the protocol meets the regulatory criteria for an expedited review, it will be forwarded to the expedited review session.

The following actions may be taken on new applications that qualify for an expedited review process:

  1. The application may be approved as submitted.
  2. The application may be tabled pending submission of revisions; or
  3. The application may be referred for discussion at a convened meeting. The Reviewers who conduct the expedited review do not have the authority to disapprove an application. Disapproval is an action that may be taken only at a convened meeting. The agenda for convened meetings is the mechanism by which the IRB members are notified of actions taken using an expedited review process. Expedited review lists are distributed at least quarterly with agendas. Members at the convened meeting may challenge an action taken through the expedited review process.

When a project receives approval through an expedited review process, written notification is provided to the principal investigator. The notice will state the period of approval. Attached to the standard approval notice is the final approved version of the consent form(s) with the approval stamp (when applicable). No protocol changes, consent form changes, amendments, or addenda may be made to the application without re-review and approval.


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