Are there alternatives to obtaining informed consent from a subject?

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The regulations generally require that the investigator obtain informed consent from subjects. Investigators also may obtain informed consent from a legally authorized representative of the subject. FDA recognizes that a durable power of attorney might suffice as identifying a legally authorized representative under some state and local laws. For example, a subject might have designated an individual to provide consent with regard to health care decisions through a durable power of attorney and have specified that the individual also has the power to make decisions on entry into research. FDA defers to state and local laws regarding who is a legally authorized representative. Therefore, the IRB should assure that the consent procedures comply with state and local laws, including assurance that the law applies to obtaining informed consent for subjects participating in research as well as for patients who require health care decisions.

Alternatives 1 and 2 are provided for in the regulations and are appropriate. Alternative 3 allows a designated individual to provide consent for a patient regarding health care decisions and is appropriate when it specifically includes entry into research. FDA defers to state and local laws regarding substituted consent. Therefore, the IRB must assure itself that the substituted consent procedures comply with state and local law, including assurance the law applies to obtaining informed consent for subjects participating in research as well as for patients who require health care decisions.

About the Author
Proxima CRO Team
Stephanie Mull
Director of Project Management

Stephanie has over 20 years of clinical research experience working from the site, CRO and sponsor perspectives. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Concordia University in St. Paul, MN, with a degree in Natural Science - biology and math.

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