National Academy of Medicine

Health Research as a Public Good

By Michael D. Rawlins
May 18, 2012 | Discussion Paper

The arrangements for the regulation and governance of health research in the United Kingdom (UK) have evolved, piecemeal, over the past 30 years, and much is now enshrined in UK and European Union (EU) legislation. Each individual measure was introduced with the best of intentions, but the law of unintended consequences has meant that the regulatory and governance framework for health research is now dysfunctional, uncoordinated, and no longer “fit for purpose.” The EU directive regulating clinical trials places unnecessary and unreasonable burdens on investigators; there are at least a dozen bodies involved in granting ethical approval for health research; and each National Health Service (NHS) hospital involved in a study insists on re-examining the ethical, legal, and financial arrangements that have already been largely scrutinised by one (and often more) of the relevant ethics committees.


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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.