Trials are already being prioritised, just not at the institutional level

Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (12):814-815 (2017)

Successful clinical trials are important for all of us, but they can be extremely complicated to design and run, so work must be done to consider what commonly goes wrong and how these issues can be addressed. Gelinas et al suggest an ethical argument for institutional prioritisation of clinical trials conducted among limited populations. This is to ensure successful recruitment and prevent competing trials rendering each other irrelevant through lack of statistical power. But they overlook the fact that effective prioritisation already occurs, and their suggestion produces yet another hurdle for researchers to overcome. Their argument hinges around the claim that allocation of participants to trials represents an inevitable rationing scenario and, like all rationing scenarios, the best methods should be used for objectively determining how limited resources are distributed to achieve the end goal.1 Although they acknowledge that both individuals and clinicians may have preferences as to which trial a patient participates in, trial interventions are by definition experimental, and therefore choosing between trials is not really analogous to choosing between alternative clinical interventions. Here it seems that although clinical instinct is important when determining treatment options, a clinical trial is a specific attempt to create systematic justified knowledge and thus individual patient/clinician autonomy …
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DOI 10.1136/medethics-2016-104000
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