Conflict of interest issues in informed consent for research on human subjects: A south asian perspective

Science and Engineering Ethics 8 (3):353-362 (2002)
Health research for progress in the control and conquest of disease afflicting man is unquestionable. Concerns arise when motives other than the advancement of scientific knowledge and benefit for individuals and society are the driving force behind clinical trials. These conflicts of interests become even more pronounced when dealing with populations rendered vulnerable by virtue of poverty and ignorance. South Asia with its teeming millions represents one such region. This essay examines the reasons that make this population vulnerable to exploitation. Informed consent in the process of research is an area where such conflicts are prone to arise. In order to ensure that conflicting interests of researchers and funding agencies are kept in check, the processes of informed consent and ethical review of research need to be strengthened. Suggestions are put forward to modify the consent process to match the needs of South Asia and to strengthen the ethical review process for safeguarding the rights of the study subjects. But perhaps the most important safeguard against exploitation is the virtuous researcher himself with noble intentions.
Keywords South Asia  informed consent  conflict of interest
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