Patients have a right to participate in risky research

MNT: Sep 18, 2013

Individuals have a right to participate in risky research trials, which might harm their health or even kill them, and institutional review boards (known as research ethics committees in the UK) – which are responsible for deciding whether a particular research trial can take place in a given institution – are potentially impeding the progress of research by rejecting such studies on ethical grounds, according to a Viewpoint published in The Lancet on Wednesday 18 September.

Dr David Shaw, of the Institute for Biomedical Ethics, at the University of Basel, Switzerland, argues that “Institutional review boards should never reject a study because it poses too high a risk to participants, and that their role should be confined to ensuring that risks and any potential benefits are fully explained to potential participants. Everyone should have the right to participate in research without paternalistic decisions about risk being made on their behalf.” Read more