Now It’s Time to Take Ethics Quiz 2
Back in June 2005, I posted “Now It’s Time to Take Ethics Quiz 1.”
I thought it was about time now for my visitors to take ethics quiz number 2.
Here is a made-up scenario but someone in the pharmaceutical research profession tells me that this is not an unrealistic scenario.
Dr. R. has a patient with epilepsy who is not adequately controlled on any of the current anti-seizure drugs. Dr. R. is aware of a formal clinical study being performed in the clinic of Dr. S. with a new experimental anti-seizure drug that is being tested in hopes of benefit for intractable epilepsy patients. Dr. R. does not inform his patient about this study as an alternative option because of fear of losing the patient to the other clinic.
Here is the question: Is there anything unethical or unprofessional about Dr. R.’s decision not to inform the patient? Now,here is one way of looking at the issue. Dr. R. knows that a new drug is studied in a research experiment because any beneficial effect on human patients is unknown or that the beneficial effect as compared to the best present treatment is unknown. He is aware that in a randomized study his patient might be getting the new drug with unknown benefit or the other drug to which his patient has not responded, then wouldn’t Dr.R.’s decision be ethically reasonable? Why? Because there is no proof at present that whatever drug was given to the patient in the experiment would be of any medical benefit.
When considering this rationale, wouldn’t the possible loss of a patient to another clinic trump any act of informing the patient about the research project? I am eager to read what my visitors think about the behavior of Dr. R. ..Maurice.