Improving Visibility of NIH-supported Clinical Trial Activities and Results

Dr. Carrie Wolinetz
Dr. Carrie Wolinetz is NIH’s Associate Director for Science Policy, and writes about biomedical research policy issues on her blog, Under the Poliscope.

In a separate post today, we provide an overview of the various reforms the NIH is leading to enhance our stewardship of clinical trials. In this post we’d like to focus a bit more on our efforts to broadly disseminate clinical trial availability and results information.

Timely dissemination of clinical trial results information has been a problem, one that has been documented more than once, and that appears to apply to NIH- as well as non-NIH funded trials. To realize the benefits of a clinical trial, the findings must be available to the public as soon as possible after the trial has concluded. This is not only responsible use of taxpayer dollars for publicly funded trials, but also fulfills our responsibility to the individuals who volunteered in these studies with an understanding that their participation would contribute to advancing medical knowledge. Today, NIH announced a new policy that will complement a new federal regulation, referred to here as the Final Rule, also released today, to improve the accessibility of information on clinical trial availability and on the outcomes and results of completed trials.

As you likely know, to carry out the laws passed by Congress, federal agencies issue regulations that govern the activities of the agency and the applicable community. The “Final Rule” announced today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the federal regulation that implements requirements in the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA) for registering and reporting clinical trials on Clinical trials that are subject to this federal regulation are, in general, trials of drug, biological, and device products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), except phase 1 trials of drug and biological products and small feasibility studies of device products. Pediatric post-market surveillances of device products, required by the FDA, are also subject to the regulation.

In addition, NIH issued a policy today that complements the Final Rule and sets the same reporting expectations for all NIH-funded clinical trials whether or not they are subject to the regulation (to include, for example, phase 1 studies of FDA regulated products as well as studies of interventions not regulated by FDA, e.g., behavioral interventions.)Both the NIH policy and the Final Rule will take effect January 18, 2017.

The Final Rule and NIH policy will provide greater clarity and robust enforcement provisions that we anticipate will result in rapid increases in the percentage of trials that are registered and that will promote timely dissemination of main results information through Investigators and sponsors who fail to comply with the regulation will be subject to civil monetary penalties assessed by FDA. In addition, NIH will restrict clinical trial funding to grantee institutions if the agency is unable to verify adequate registration and results information reporting from all trials funded at that institution. Failure to comply with the NIH policy in accordance with the terms and conditions of an NIH award can also have consequences, including suspension of funding.

In addition to the Final Rule and NIH policy, NIH has made available a number of resources to help explain the changes, and will be rolling out more over the upcoming months. Resources available now include:

As described in the NIH Guide Notice, for the NIH extramural program, the NIH policy applies to applications for funding including for grants, other transactions, and contracts submitted on or after the policy’s effective date that request support for the conduct of a clinical trial that is initiated on or after the policy’s effective date. For the NIH intramural program, the NIH policy applies to clinical trials initiated on or after the policy’s effective date.

Any grant application or contract proposal submitted on or after the policy’s effective date (January 18, 2017) must include a plan describing how awardees will ensure the appropriate dissemination of NIH-funded clinical trial information. The contents of this plan may vary, depending on whether the NIH clinical trial falls under the Final Rule (referred to as an “applicable clinical trial”), and whether the awardee or investigator is a “responsible party” as defined in the Final Rule (42 CFR Part 11). For more details, please read the NIH Policy on Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information and the Final Rule published today.

We certainly encourage the broad dissemination of results information from all trials, both through and peer-reviewed published results, even prior to the NIH policy’s effective date. Please join us in our efforts to maximize the federal investment in clinical trials as well as maximizing the impact of the contributions of the patient volunteers who are so critical to helping advance human health as a whole.


  1. I love the idea of clinical and I appreciate the effort which is going into it. I must say however as a user, someone who has tried to enter results and someone who has just entered two new projects I find it anything but friendly and easy- and Im not sure the public can appreciate it as a way to get results either. If the public is the audience then Id love to see a study on how useable they feel it is and how much they learn from it- I would think a narrative summary of results might be much more informative for them. I would say allowing us to upload our peer reviewed papers rather than force data into categories and boxes which do not always apply and are repetitive is not really serving anyone. Sorry to be negative- Id love to help improve the process just not sure how to do so

  2. It would be interesting to many i n the research community to understand why it took the NIH almost a decade following enactment of the FDAAA in 2007 to develop and promulgate this “Final Rule” and “Policy.”

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