"My Body is One of the Best Commodities": Exploring the Ethics of Commodification in Phase I Healthy Volunteer Clinical Trials

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 29 (4):305-331 (2019)
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In phase I clinical trials, healthy volunteers are dosed with investigational drugs and subjected to blood draws and other bodily monitoring procedures. In exchange, they are paid. Healthy volunteers are, in a very direct sense, selling access to their bodies for pharmaceutical companies and their associates to run drugs through. In his ethnographic study of socalled professional guinea pigs, Roberto Abadie writes, "Paid volunteers are well aware of the demand for an idealized, perfectly healthy volunteer. They also realize that their body is a valued commodity in clinical trials research". It is perhaps surprising, then, that commodification is little discussed in the bioethics literature on phase I...



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