Research Ethics Roundup: Growing Concerns Over “Parachute Research,” The Practice of “Outcome Switching,” and More

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup examines the ethical concerns surrounding “parachute research” and “outcome switching,” India’s new regulatory scheme for academic clinical trials, and how animal welfare can be improved through telemetry.

5975432995_6c954cac6f_mScientists Say It’s Time to End ‘Parachute Research’: In this NPR article, Nurith Aizenman reports on why critics sometimes call scientists from wealthier countries “parachute researchers.” Scientists are called “parachute researchers” when they do not work with the local population facing the epidemic and do not share their research findings in a timely manner. There are new concerns that “parachute researchers” are hurting efforts to stop the Zika virus.

For My Next Trick…Too Many Medical Trials Move Their Goalposts Halfway Through. A New Initiative Aims to Change ThatThe Economist reports on the practice of “outcome switching” where the “questions that a scientific study was set up to answer are swapped part way through for a different lot.” Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has created a COMPare project that reviews medical journals for “evidence of ‘outcome switching.’”

Norms for Clinical Trials Eased: Vidya Krishnan of The Hindu highlights how the Health Ministry in India “has amended the Drug and Cosmetics Act, exempting clinical trials conducted at academic institutions from taking the hitherto mandatory permission from the Drug Controller General of India.” In 2013, after concerns about trial-related deaths and informed consent issues, India’s Supreme Court halted new clinical trials until there were regulatory changes.

MouseAnimals Untethered: Improving Animal Welfare and Data Accuracy Through Telemetry: In this piece for ALN Magazine, Helen Kelly reports on efforts to reduce stress in lab animals. Reducing stress improves the welfare of lab animals and can improve data quality.