Good clinical practice for clinical trials
- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
- Part of:
- Good clinical practice: guidance and inspections, Patient safety, and Good practice, inspections and enforcement
- First published:
- 18 December 2014
- Last updated:
- 12 August 2016, see all updates
How to show MHRA you're meeting good clinical practice (GCP) standards and what to expect from an inspection.
Good clinical practice (GCP) is a set of internationally-recognised ethical and scientific quality requirements that must be followed when designing, conducting, recording and reporting clinical trials that involve people.
Organisations that may have to comply with GCP include:
- pharmaceutical companies
- contract research organisations
- NHS hospitals
- GP practices
- clinical laboratories good laboratory practice
Guidance on good clinical practice. has been produced by the International conference on harmonisation of technical requirements for registration of pharmaceuticals for human use (ICH).
You can also get more information about GCP in the Good Clinical Practice Guide, produced by MHRA.
To ensure compliance with GCP, MHRA:
- asks trial sites to notify them of serious breaches
- carries out inspections of trial sites where serious breaches are reported
- carries out inspections of trial sites that sponsor clinical trials, mostly based on a risk assessment score
- carries out inspections of sites when companies apply for marketing authorisations
Report a serious breach
You must notify MHRA of serious breaches of GCP or the trial protocol. See Guidance for the notification of serious breaches of GCP or the trial protocol (PDF, 153KB, 14 pages) .
Complete the notification of serious breaches of GCP or the trial protocol form (MS Word Document, 227KB) and send it to GCP.SeriousBreaches@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
See the annual summary of MHRA GCP referrals.
Triggered inspections for serious breaches
MHRA may contact you to arrange an inspection if they suspect the law has been broken. This information might come from:
- a serious breach notification
- a whistleblower
- other MHRA departments
- the health research authority (HRA)
In rare circumstances, MHRA may give little or no notice of these inspections.
Inspections under the risk-based compliance programme
The majority of MHRA GCP inspections are carried out under the risk-based compliance programme. These can be either systems-based or trial specific.
GCP systems inspections examine the systems used by your organisation to conduct clinical trial research. The inspectors will select a number of your clinical trials to examine how your organisation’s trial procedures are applied. One or two investigator sites involved in the selected trials may also be inspected.
Trial-specific GCP inspections assess clinical trials that have been completed and reported.
Currently phase I units that are part of the phase I accreditation scheme are not part of the risk-based programme but they are inspected every 2 years.
The risk-based compliance programme uses information available to MHRA to determine an organisation’s risk. This information includes:
- internal information about previous inspection history
- organisational changes
Each organisation is given a risk assessment score and inspections are prioritised for the organisations with the highest risk assessment score.
This will be used with the output from the inspectorate risk-based progamme. A small number of the organisations in the medium and low-risk categories will be randomly selected for routine risk-based inspections.
See the flowchart of the inspection process (PDF, 92.8KB, 1 page) .
Compliance report requirements
There have been updates to requirements for completing a compliance report in 2016.
Over the last seven years the MHRA GCP Inspectorate has requested organisations involved in the conduct of clinical trials to complete and submit GCP compliance reports. We have used the data provided in these reports to support our inspection scheduling and planning activities. In addition, we have used the reports to enhance the information that we maintain on our inspection universe by looking at the numbers and types of trials that have been conducted by the various clinical trials organisations operating in the UK.
As of 2016, we no longer require routine compliance reports to be submitted unless your organisation is specifically requested to provide information in relation to the number and/or types of trials being undertaken. You will be contacted directly by the GCP Inspectorate should this information be required (as some organisations have been already). We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the information that has been provided to date.
You will be notified if your organisation is chosen for inspection under the routine risk-based inspection programme.
The notification includes a request for information, in the form of a GCP inspection dossier and a clinical trials spreadsheet to MHRA within 30 days.
This dossier should include:
- a list of clinical trials
- organisation charts
- standard operating procedure (SOP) lists
- contact details
- overview of facilities
- service providers
- clinical trials activities
Use the GCP inspection dossier template (MS Word Document, 325KB) and the GCP inspection dossier clinical trial spreadsheet (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 64.8KB) to help you prepare your dossier. Use the GCP inspection dossier checklist (MS Word Document, 256KB) to ensure your dossier is complete.
MHRA will agree an inspection date and give you information on the inspection team and the practical logistical aspects of the inspection.
Occasionally, after reviewing the dossier, the lead inspector may decide not to proceed with the inspection.
The trial master file (TMF)
A number of clinical trials are usually selected for Trial Master File (TMF) review, although the inspection may not be limited to these.
The complete TMF is the basis for inspection and all the documents in it must be made available to the inspectors. This includes any electronic documents and emails. You’ll need to provide any equipment and software needed to access any electronic documents.
You can discuss with the lead inspector beforehand on how to make the TMF available during the inspection.
If you are a sponsor and have subcontracted some activities to a contract research organisation (CRO), then you will have to provide the TMF and/or other documents.
If you have problems meeting these requirements, you should tell the lead inspector before the inspection.
Failure to provide the TMF can affect the results of your inspection.
The inspection plan
The inspection plan is based on discussions with you and the information provided in your GCP inspection dossier, to ensure all activities are covered. Appropriate people should be available for interview either in person or by teleconference.
Additional supporting documentation such as line listings, database extracts, floor plans etc. might be needed. All documentation requested should be provided within the time agreed with the lead inspector.
Inspectors will be flexible with the inspection plan to accommodate working patterns of individuals and immediate issues if they arise.
An inspection plan will be given to you in advance and any comments or questions relating to it can be discussed with the lead inspector.
During the inspection
The inspection includes interviews with relevant people and a review of the documentation, such as the TMF. The inspector may visit:
- data management units
You should be prepared to provide additional documentation to the inspectors on request.
At the end of the inspection the inspector will give you a verbal summary of the inspection findings and allow you the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings.The grading of the findings are provisional and may be changed by the inspector for the report.
Grading of inspections findings
Deficiencies found during inspections are graded at 3 levels - critical, major and other.
The inspection report
The inspection report is emailed to you. You must respond to the report, see Guidance for formulating responses to GCP inspection findings (PDF, 42.4KB, 4 pages) . Your organisation must provide a response to the inspection report in the form of a corrective action and preventative action (CAPA) plan. For some inspections, you may need to provide periodic reports on the progress of proposed CAPA actions.
The lead inspector may ask you for additional clarification from the responses you provided. Usually, you will be given one opportunity to provide additional information or clarification.
Once adequate responses are received, a GCP inspection statement will be issued to you by email.
Information from previous MHRA inspections.
Fees for GCP inspections
Feedback from GCP inspections
MHRA GCP inspectorate sent surveys to get feedback from inspected organisations and investigators. Organisations and investigators were asked to score their response to questions on the inspection process.
To help you understand the areas where GCP inspectors have found compliance problems during GCP inspections in the UK, the GCP inspectorate produces metrics reports.
GCP discussion forum
MHRA GCP forum MHRA GCP forum can help you comply with the clinical trials regulations and GCP requirements by. The forum gives you an opportunity to discuss clinical trials and GCP requirements with other researchers.
GCP Stakeholder Engagement Meeting (StEM)
The MHRA GCP Stakeholder Engagement Meeting (StEM) now meets on an annual basis to provide a forum for discussion between the MHRA GCP inspectorate and represented stakeholders on key topics related to the conduct of clinical trials of investigational medicinal products. Minutes of the March 2016 meeting can be found here:
Minutes of the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting March 2016 (PDF, 179KB, 6 pages)
MHRA update for the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting March 2016 (PDF, 276KB, 9 pages)
Trial Master Files presentation for the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting March 2016 (PDF, 593KB, 18 pages)
ePRO MHRA case study for the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting March 2016 (PDF, 418KB, 11 pages)
Reference Safety Information for the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting March 2016 (PDF, 357KB, 14 pages)
European and UK law for GCP
You can find the European Union directives, GCP and other guidance in Volume 10 of the rules governing medicinal products in the European Union
The key UK legislation and guidance which covers GCP inspections includes:
- The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004
- The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Amendment Regulations 2006
- The Medicines(Advisory Bodies)(No. 2)Regulations 2005
- The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Amendment (No.2) Regulations 2006
- The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Amendment (No.2) Regulations 2006
- The Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Order 2007
- The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) and Blood Safety and Quality (Amendment) Regulations 2008
- The Medicines for Human Use (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2009
- The Medicines for Human Use (Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2010
- MHRA’s guidance for clinical trial sponsors and host organisations on electronic health records
Published: 18 December 2014
Updated: 12 August 2016
- Updated inspection checklist
- Added presentations and case studies from the GCP Stakeholder Engagement Meeting in March 2016.
- Added GCP Stakeholder Engagement Meeting minutes.
- Update to requirements for completing a compliance report in 2016.
- First published.