The International Academy of Clinical Research (IAoCR) has launched a campaign to change the way training and education are conducted in the UK’s clinical research industry.

The IAoCR wants to see accredited clinical research training introduced that would follow a recognised industry standard and offer demonstrable, measurable levels of competence.

The training issue was discussed at a recent meeting attended by leading stakeholders from pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations.

There were presentations at the meeting by Dr Vincent Yeung of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency; Dr Mike Hardman from AstraZeneca and the European Medicines Research Training Network; and MP Virendra Sharma from the UK Parliament’s Health Select Committee.

Increasing need

This event “stimulated a great deal of debate about the increasing need for accredited training within the clinical research industry”, said Jacqueline Johnson North, the IAoCR’s chief executive officer.

“Although there were many different opinions, it was unanimously agreed that there needs to be some form of regulated, recognised and accredited training.”

The IAoCR believes an accredited training framework has the potential to improve patient safety and public confidence in clinical research; cut down on risks, mistakes and repetitive training; get drugs to market more quickly; and support the career progress of clinical research professionals, site staff and investigators.

Meaningful measure

As things stand, noted Johnson North, clinical research professionals and site staff receive full training before starting any clinical trial.

This covers standard operating procedures, general clinical research training and trial-specific training. However, Johnson North added, “there is rarely any meaningful measure of learning transfer and staff competence”.

By introducing a requirement for accredited, quality-controlled training, clinical trial operators would be able to reduce the level of repetitive general training and focus much more heavily on trial-specific training, the IAoCR contends.

“The results will be four-fold – training time will be reduced, specific training will be improved, staff will feel more valued as their level of expertise is recognised and, finally, skills and qualifications will become more transparent and more portable, which will boost the industry by attracting and keeping quality staff,” Johnson North commented.