Research Ethics Roundup: The vague moratorium placed on risky virus research, the use of animals in military medical training, and more

U.S. Urged to Clarify Extent of Funding Moratorium on Risky Virus Research:

Researchers are pleading with the US government to clarify the details of a recent moratorium placed on funding projects that show potential risks due to the use of certain viruses. Concerns include confusion on the specific viruses and experiments covered by the new policy. A statement released by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) echoes these concerns, urging the government to clarify and grant urgent exceptions to the moratorium.

Military to Curtail Use of Live Animals in Medical Training: A new policy set to go into effect on January 1 will halt the use of live animals in a variety of medical training programs. This policy brings the military into better alignment with both the civilian medical community and the Pentagon’s NATO allies. Alternatives suggested by the Pentagon include using lifelike human simulators that are already in use by military personnel.

The Impossibility of Informed Consent?: The discussion on issues surrounding “informed consent to medical treatment and research, and its relation to autonomy, trust and clinical practice” has evolved with innovations in technology and different means of conducting research. The Journal of Medical Ethics shares a variety of examples over the past 40 years that highlight these very issues and show how language and considerations have changed.

Pills Spilled

Why Are So Few Blockbuster Drugs Invented Today?: The number of researchers taking the initiative to pursue developing new blockbuster drugs has dropped significantly over the years. Factors contributing to the lack of development of new drugs, including the process by which new drugs are invented and approved, and an over-reliance on genomics, are explored by the New York Times Magazine.

NIH Takes Step to Speed the Initiation of Clinical Research by Ensuring Use of Single IRB: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new draft policy that advocates for the use of single institutional review boards (IRBs) in multi-site clinical research studies. NIH believes wider use of single IRB review will increase efficiencies in the initiation of studies. A 60-day public comment period on the draft policy closes on January 29.