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HSC 3000 W2 Assignment 2 Ethics Committee

HSC 3000 W2 Assignment 2 Ethics Committee


What are the major ethical issues in this case?

What laws, if any, are applicable to the decision?

How should the ethics committee render a decision in this case?

If there are differences of opinion among committee members, how should the committee deal with the differences?

An ethics committee in the European Union is a body responsible for oversight of medical or human research studies in EU member states. Local terms for a European ethics committee include:

  • A Research Ethics Committee (REC) in the United Kingdom[1]
  • A Medical Research Ethics Committee (MREC) in the Netherlands.[2]
  • A Comité de Protection des Personnes (CPP) in France.

In the United States, an ethics committee is usually known as an institutional review board and is dedicated to overseeing the rights and well-being of research subjects participating in scientific studies in the US. Similarly in Canada, the committee is called a Research Ethics Board (REB).

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In Australia, an ethics committee in medical research refers to a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC).

In Canada, the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics promotes “the ethical conduct of research involving human participants”.[3]

One of the most fundamental ethical principles in human experimentation is that the experimenter should not subject the participants in the experiment to any procedure they would not be willing to undertake themselves. This idea was first codified in the Nuremberg Code[4] in 1947, which was a result of the trials of Nazi doctors at the Nuremberg trials accused of murdering and torturing victims in valueless experiments. Several of these doctors were hanged. Point five of the Nuremberg Code requires that no experiment should be conducted that is dangerous to the subjects unless the experimenters themselves also take part. The Nuremberg Code has influenced medical experiment codes of practice around the world, as has the exposure of experiments that have since failed to follow it such as the notorious Tuskegee syphilis experiment.[5]

Another ethical principle is that volunteers must stand to gain some benefit from the research, even if that is only a remote future possibility of treatment being found for a disease that they only have a small chance of contracting. Tests on experimental drugs are sometimes conducted on sufferers of an untreatable condition. If the researcher does not have that condition then there can be no possible benefit to them personally. For instance, Ronald C. Desrosiers in responding to why he did not test an AIDS vaccine he was developing on himself said that he was not at risk of AIDS so could not possibly benefit.[6]

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