Research Ethics Roundup: Examining Japan’s New System, Using Google to do STD Research, and More

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup looks at several controversial issues emerging in the medical research field including whether clinical trials should be conducted on the use of psychiatric medications in infants.

Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given Antipsychotics Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given Antipsychotics: In this article for the New York Times, Alan Schwarz reports on the rise in the number of children, ages two or younger, being prescribed psychiatric medications after exhibiting withdrawn or violent behavior. There is concern about the lack of published research for how effective the drugs are in children two or younger. However, doctors are also wary of conducting clinical trials of the effect of psychiatric medications on children this young because of concerns about the impact on their neurological inner workings.

Stem the Tide: Japan has Introduced an System to Make Patients Pay for Clinical Trials: Japan’s new system to bring regenerative therapies more quickly to market requires patients pay for clinical trials. This Nature editorial argues that Japanese patients are partially subsidizing the cost for a drug that has not been proven effective and companies may enjoy revenues from treatments that are later found not to be effective. The editorial board is concerned that other national regulatory bodies will follow Japan’s approach without first seeing whether Japan’s system is successful.

Where Are STDs Rampant? Google Wants To Help Researchers Find Out: Google has started to allow researchers access to its data so they can develop models to trace infectious diseases including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). As Mary Chris Jaklevic explains for Kaiser Health News, researchers have not been able to track STDs via social media because users usually do not post information about their sexual health on such platforms. However, city-specific data from anonymized Google searches may provide new insights.

Body's First Response to Illness Discovered in MiceBody’s First Response to Illness Discovered in Mice: Elizabeth Doughman explores how research with mice has led to new discoveries about our immune system for ALN Magazine. Researchers hope the findings will eventually help patients who become sick frequently.