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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Non-Clinical Medicine - Science Policy

Harmonization of the Practice of Independent Ethics Committees in Italy: Project E-Submission
Published: Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Author: Gianfranco De Feo et al.

by Gianfranco De Feo, Giacomo Chiabrando, Nunzia Cannovo, Antonio Galluccio, Carlo Tomino


The high variability of “centre-specific” documentation required by Independent Ethics Committee (IEC) plays a role in the time required for activation of participating centres of multicentre clinical trials. This study (a) provides a picture of the different activities, structural requirements and resources dedicated to the operation of the local IEC in Italy; (b) defines a detailed list of “centre-specific” documents considered as essential by the IEC for issuing its opinion and (c) suggests a “single document” to reduce the variability of the “centre-specific” documents required by the IEC.


Two surveys were conducted through the portal of National Monitoring Centre of Clinical Trials ( The first survey focused on the local IEC resources and on the “centre-specific” documentation that local IEC required from the Sponsor and local Principal Investigator (PI). The second focused on “single document” required in the form of statements from the Sponsor and the PI. Answers were discussed and extended during regular scheduled teleconferences and plenary meeting.

Principal Findings

From 22/07/2009 to 15/12/2009, and from 19/04/2010 to 14/05/2010, 131 and 125 IECs responded to the first and the second surveys, respectively. 67% and 51% of IECs consider the structural requirements and the staff dedicated to the activity of the IECs as sufficient, respectively. Most of the IECs consider the “centre-specific” documentation as necessary for issuing the opinion, and a high percentage of IECs consider the proposed documentation as acceptable in substitution to any other “centre-specific” documentation already in use.


The harmonization of IECs practice in Italy is the first step to facilitate multicentre clinical trials. Similar efforts should be directed to reduce the total number of IECs and to standardize clinical trials approval procedures, focusing on administrative procedures as well.