The European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN) is a non-profit organization that was established to promote and facilitate international clinical research on our continent. ECRIN's activities focus on clinical trials initiated by academic sponsors, as well as by small and medium-sized companies in the biotechnology and medical device sectors.
On August 23, 2019, Poland officially joined the ECRIN network, with the status of a so-called observer, and in September 2022 became a full member of the organization. The Medical Research Agency became the institution representing our country in ECRIN. Currently, thirteen countries are members of the ECRIN network, twelve of which have member status (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Greece).
ECRIN provides investigators and sponsors with access to the information, advice and services needed to plan and conduct clinical trials, generally international. The ECRIN network is not itself a source of research funding (it does not award research grants or subsidies), but it does serve to support the process of seeking funding.
There are numerous benefits to conducting clinical trials in an international format:
- access to a larger number of patients, scientific and research staff and the opportunity to benefit from their knowledge and experience;
- use of more advanced research methodology;
- sharing of costs, tools and procedures for a given study;
- greater potential for broader implementation of the study's results, and even impact on public health in a global context;
- prevention of duplication of the same or similar studies.
Many non-commercial researchers and sponsors do not participate in international studies, fearing various formal or logistical barriers. As a result, non-commercial research is still more often conducted in just one country compared to research sponsored by commercial entities (e.g., pharmaceutical companies). ECRIN provides assistance in overcoming the above obstacles, offering researchers support mainly in areas such as:
- preparation of an international clinical trial, especially its logistical elements or support during preparation of funding applications;
- support during the preparation of the study protocol, including the establishment of research methodology and biostatistical assumptions;
- study management - including coordination and support in the preparation of documentation necessary to obtain the required official permits to start the study and opinions of bioethics committees, study monitoring, pharmacovigilance, data management.
ECRIN collaborates with European correspondents, national networks of clinical trial units (CTUs) such as PCTN and numerous European and international institutional partners involved in clinical research. In addition, ECRIN engages in research infrastructure development projects. The intended effect of these activities is to increase the capacity of European research centers and institutions to conduct clinical research effectively, especially internationally.
Without excluding studies sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry, ECRIN focuses on conducting non-commercial studies in all therapeutic areas. Such studies are intended to provide results that allow objective evaluation of preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that are not of commercial interest. These areas include:
- developing innovative medical technologies, i.e., medicinal products and medical devices;
- investigation of new indications for authorized medicinal products and medical devices;
- comparative evaluation of the effectiveness and safety of therapeutic (diagnostic, preventive) strategies used in medicine - so-called strategy trials.
ECRIN provides advice and information and offers its services free of charge in non-commercial clinical trials involving at least two ECRIN member countries.