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Why is Medical Research Ethics important for the Modern World?

  • Published
    28th Nov, 2022

The Cells of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who died of Cervical Cancer in 1951 have been used by the researchers of that time to develop the Polio vaccine and other medicines, without taking consent from the family before or after her death. This arise a question about Doctors and researchers against following medical research ethics.

What does Medical Ethics mean?

  • Ethics is an understanding of the nature of conflicts arising from moral imperatives and how best we may deal with them.
  • Ethics in medical research deals with conflicts of interest across various levels. Guidelines have been proposed for standardized ethical practice throughout the globe.
  • Medical ethics also deals with the choices made by society, the distribution of resources, access to health care, and the dilemmas arising from them.

Why is Medical research Ethics important?

  • The four fundamental principles of Medical research ethics which are being underscored are;
    • Autonomy,
    • Non-maleficence,
    • Beneficence, and
    • Justice.    
  • It is suggested that though the value of published guidelines and the help that may be available from research ethics committees is quite great, the primary responsibility for maintaining high standards of practice in research rests with the research workers themselves.

Efforts so far:

  • Following International code for ethics in clinical research: It laid down 10 clear principles to be followed by researchers and;
  • made voluntary consent essential,
  • allowed subjects to withdraw from the experimentation at any time,
  • banned experiments that could result in major injury or death of the subjects, and
  • Made mandatory to have preclinical data before experimenting on humans.
  • A set of guidelines was adopted by the 18th World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly, which was called the Declaration of Helsinki.
    • It contained 32 principles, which stress informed consent, the confidentiality of data, vulnerable population, and the requirement of a protocol, including the scientific reasons for the study, to be reviewed by the ethics committee.
    • Though the Declaration of Helsinki had created a stir in the medical community, medical atrocities continued.
  • The Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) in association with the World Health Organization (WHO) developed “International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects” in 1982.

Ethical Issues that persist:

  • Lack of Individual or Peer Consent:
    • The samples being collected by the Researchers remain under darkness and are not revealed to common people. It sometimes includes family members of the patient and the patient himself/herself.
  • Avoid Justice:
    •  The lack of awareness and trust for doctors among the common people makes researchers do injustice to the patient or his/her family by using the samples for future developments but no benefit or recognition is given to the individual or family.
  • Used for Monetary benefits:
    •  Today the medical world has engulfed by the power of money and benefits generated for doctors and researchers.
    •  This makes the real aim remain unaddressed i.e. Helping patients.

How can they be solved?

  • Making a set of rules for medical Practitioners and  a regulating body
  • Involving common people in research-related activity
  • To Biological generate awareness in the community
  • Sensitize the Medical Staff
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