The potential exploitation of research participants in high income countries who lack access to health care

  • Dal-Ré R
  • Rid A
  • Emanuel E
 et al. 
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There are millions of individuals living in North America and the European Union who lack access to healthcare services. When these individuals participate in research, they are at increased risk of being exposed to the risks and burdens of clinical trials without realizing the benefits that result from them. The mechanisms that have been proposed to ensure that research participants in low- and middle-income countries are not exploited are unlikely to protect participants in high-income countries. The present manuscript argues that one way to address concerns about exploitation in high-income countries would be to require sponsors to provide targeted benefits such as medical treatment during the trial, or the study drug after the trial. The latter could be achieved through extension studies, expanded access programs, or named-patient programs. Sponsors also might provide non-medical benefits, such as education or social support. Ethical and regulatory guidance should be revised to ensure that research participants in high-income countries who lack access to health care services receive sufficient benefits.

Author-supplied keywords

  • clinical trials regulation
  • drug development
  • ethical trial conduct
  • exploitation of participants
  • fair benefits framework
  • poor trial participants

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