Research Ethics Roundup: Questioning post-market trials, stem cell research, and more!

Though summer may be nearly over, the world of research ethics is still heating up. From the ethical implications of post-market research, to the protection of children in clinical trials, this week’s Research Ethics Roundup is full of stories you won’t want to miss.

Additional protections for children who participate in clinical research: In this powerful opinion piece, pediatric ethicist and PRIM&R faculty member, Robert “Skip” Nelson, MD, PhD, argues that children are especially vulnerable to exploitation and exposure to unnecessary risks due both to the high level of emotion and urgency often associated with childhood illness and the limited amount of information available about pediatric treatments. 

Genes now tell doctors secrets they can’t utter: This article in The New York Times discusses the procedural and ethical issues surrounding the return of genetic results to research participants or their families. Special attention is given to cases in which the results were not envisioned as part of the initial protocol or consent process and for which treatment options exist.

Appeals court panel says federally funded embryonic stem cell research can continue: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has upheld the decision of a lower court to dismiss a case that challenged federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Do post-market drug trials need a higher dose of ethics?: While clinical trials with experimental treatments require doctors to provide extensive counseling before a participant can give his or her informed consent, post-market trials do not. As a result, participants often lack a clear picture of the risks and benefits of enrolling in post-market trials.