A Joint Forum was sponsored by the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) and the Arabian Gulf University (AGU) to discuss draft regulations for standards for research ethics committees (RECs) in Bahrain. These regulations are timely as it is expected that the conduct of clinical trials will increase in Bahrain to test the effectiveness of drugs in the native Gulf population who have a genetic profile that might differ from people in other parts of the world. This is a key point because the risk/benefit profile established for drugs from previous clinical trial testing in other populations might not be applicable to the populations in the Gulf region.
The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure that RECs in Bahrain operate according to a uniform ethics review process that protects the rights and safety of research participants. The guidelines were drafted by NHRA chief executive Mariam Al Jalahma and Dr. Adel Medhkour, who is director of the clinical research centre at AGU. A discussion of the draft regulations was led by Dr. Henry Silverman, director of the Middle East Research Ethics Training Initiative (MERETI).