Research Ethics Roundup: Addressing Questions Raised by Compassionate Use, Ebola Drug Trials, and More

In this week’s Research Ethics Roundup, we explore how new approaches are being used to address longstanding questions, such as those raised by expanded access or compassionate use, and chart a course for the future of biomedical innovation.
Company Creates Bioethics Panel on Trial Drugs: In an effort to address concerns related to compassionate use requests, Johnson and Johnson announced last week that they have appointed bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, to “to create a panel that will make decisions about patients’ requests for potentially lifesaving medicine.”
House Seeks Momentum on Medical Cures: On May 14, the most recent draft of the 21st Century Cures bill, which seeks to “accelerate the pace of cures in America,” was unanimously approved by the US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. This article from The Hill outlines the next steps for the legislation, as well as the Senate’s progress on a similar bill.
Disputes Emerge on African Ebola Drug Trials: The 2014 West African Ebola outbreak is waning. However, questions about how best to develop Ebola vaccines and therapeutics remain. This article from the Wall Street Journal considers the debate surrounding the use of randomized controlled trials to study experimental Ebola vaccines and therapeutics.
Drugmaker and University Ally to Seek Cure for AIDS: Last week, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and GlaxoSmithKline announced they are partnering in an effort to find a cure for HIV and AIDS. The partnership is part of a growing trend “in which pharmaceutical companies are working directly with university researchers.”
Llamas as Lab Rats: Llamas are one of a number of animals that produce heavy-chain antibodies. In this article for The Scientist, Jenny Rood explores the scientific significant of these antibodies in llamas, as well as how their use is helping to advance HIV vaccine research.