An organization contracted Carl Elliot to recruit homeless people for drug test trials. Elliot interviewed people around the US and realized that homeless people are commonly used for psychiatric drug trials. He realizes that researcher take advantage of vulnerable populations especially homeless individuals who they believe are broke and willing to do anything for shelter, food or money. Therefore, most drug companies, which produce the atypical antipsychotics usually patrol around homeless shelters to find willing participants. Most homeless people are believed to be mentally ill, or sometimes their judgment and competence are compromised. This raises ethical issues linked to clinical trials. Healthy individuals are never willing to participate in risky trials especially when it involves little money, but the poor are ready to do anything even if it involves small payment. From the case, a man involved in an in-patient trial died from heart attack during the drug test trial, and the nurse did not follow appropriate standards of care during the process (Elliot, 2011).
Ethical Principles Breached
The use of poor and homeless individuals for drug trials go against the major ethical issues of carrying out research. Fouka & Mantzorou (2011) states that in such a case, the ethical concerns that should be involved in carrying out research include the vulnerability of a particular group, beneficence and informed consent. A homeless population is a vulnerable group who cannot protect themselves from participating in drug research trials. Beneficence means do not harm, however, during the trial a man died from a heart attack because the nurse did not follow the code of conduct required for patient care. Informed consent means the patient should know the benefits and risks involved in the trial. However, the population involved in the trial was particularly concerned about getting paid rather than comprehending the implications of the drug test trial.
How the Research should have been conducted
Researchers should not recruit the poor during drug test trials by providing incentives for experimentations. More emphasis should be on informed consent, which allows participants to realize the implications and side effects of the drug test trial. For participants who are mentally ill, the researcher should conduct a psychiatric evaluation to evaluate the competence and judgment before involving them in the drug test trial.
Elliot, C. (2014, July 27). The best-selling, billion-dollar pills tested on homeless people: How the destitute and mentally ill are being used as human lab rats. Retrieved from https://medium.com/matter/did-big-pharma-test-your-meds-on-homeless-people-a6d8d3fc7dfe#.tji30a1d4
Fouka, G., & Mantzorou, M. (2011). What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), 314.
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