The Moral Case for Granting Catastrophically Ill Patients the Right to Access Unregistered Medical Interventions

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 45 (3):382-391 (2017)
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Using the case of Ebola Virus Disease as an example, this paper shows why patients at high risk for death have a defensible moral claim to access unregistered medical interventions, without having to enrol in randomized placebo controlled trials.A number of jurisdictions permit and facilitate such access under emergency circumstances. One controversial question is whether patients should only be permitted access to UMI after trials investigating the interventions are fully recruited. It is argued that regulatory regimes should not prioritise trial recruitment over patient access, even if this results in drug research and development delays.We describe how the moral duty to rescue impacts on others' duties to oblige patients seeking emergency access to unregistered medical interventions. The view that eligible patients are owed the provision of access to UMI regardless of their willingness to enrol in a randomised controlled trial is defended.



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Udo Schüklenk
Queen's University

Citations of this work

Controversies in Clinical Research Ethics.Robert M. Sade - 2017 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 45 (3):291-294.

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Scientific research is a moral duty.J. Harris - 2005 - Journal of Medical Ethics 31 (4):242-248.
Coercive wage offers.David Zimmerman - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (2):121-145.
Payment for research participation: a coercive offer?A. Wertheimer & F. G. Miller - 2008 - Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (5):389-392.
The Sexual Harassment Coercive Offer.James Rocha - 2011 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (2):203-216.

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