should new drugs be given to patients outside clinical trials?
No introduction at present. Why not write one?
You can also add to the debate by leaving your comment at the end of the page.
Patients can volunteer
Clinical trials are trials of drugs on humans. This is allowed because the test group involved are all informed of the risks involved, often the test results from animals of the drug in question, and then voluntarily agree to have the drug tested on them. Commonly, research centres at universities will offer students money to test drugs for them.
The key word? Voluntarily. The test group volunteer to be tested and suffer any possible consequences of their own free will.
Why, then, can patients not equally volunteer?
Take, for example, a man with terminal cancer. A new drug has stopped the progress of this cancer in mice, but has not completed human trials. By the time it does, he will be dead. Why is he incapable of volunteering to be tested?
Some drugs have to be tested on patients. If a drug is created to reduce the size of tumours, then the test group must have tumours for the drug's effect to be observed.
Therefore, patients should be allowed and able to volunteer to have drugs tested on them, whether or not they have completed clinical trials.
Certain illnesses throw the idea of volunteering into question. Can an Alzheimer's sufferer volunteer to do something in the long term? Can a victim of brain damage volunteer to do anything? Can a comatose patient volunteer to do anything?
Therefore, are the proposition suggesting that these patients also be tested, or be left alone?
Furthermore, one could argue that any patient that is not a doctor themselves could not volunteer for experimental medical treatment as they do not and can not know or understand the full ramifications involved.
Therefore, some patients (potentially all of them) cannot volunteer, and the proposition's argument is void.
Lack of research means a lack of understanding
The motion indicates the giving of drugs to patients when the drug has not completed the clinical trials currently required before a drug may be given to patients who are not on said trials.
Therefore, patients would receive drugs that have not completed clinical trials.
Clincial trials are the testing of the drug upon humans. As much as animal testing does give us a very good idea of what is and is not viable to use as treatment, it does not give us the entire idea. As similar as humans are to mice, rats, pigs, cats, whatever genetically, minor differences can and do make an enormous difference in medical treatment. Therefore, clinical trials are necessary.
Without these clinical trials, the medics testing and prescribing them won't know the consequences of these drugs. This is dangerous for two main reasons:
1) It could kill the patient.
2) The medics will not know what side-effects and problems to look out for. They cannot possibly catch every single result of a drug, and without clinical trials, they won't know the most common or harmless side effects.
Therefore, giving a drug to patients when it has not completed clinical trials only means that the doctors in charge won't know what the drug is going to do, how it's going to do it, and the possible impact upon the patient. It is likely that patients will become very ill or die from the use of such drugs; therefore, it is not a sensible or viable course of testing.
Eventually, the drugs have to see patients.
The only way to gain understanding is to test a procedure. Many of us would find the idea of digging up corpses and cutting them up distasteful, but it was for a time the only way to understand the human body, and gave rise to thousands of treatments otherwise unknown.
Therefore, to learn and understand the side-effects of the drugs, we must test them on humans. This happens in clinical trials. But drugs designed to combat particular illnesses must be tested on people with those illnesses and, often, clinical trials will not receive enough volunteers without approaching hospital patients.
As long as the patient consents, the lack of understanding need not be an issue.
The motion does not require consent
The motion does require or imply the consent or knowledge of the patient. Therefore, it also asks whether the patient can be given drugs outside clinical trials without their knowledge. That is to say, they cannot volunteer, and their doctor makes the decision for them concerning an untested treatment.
In the UK (and many other countries) this is illegal. The patient must be informed of any and all treatments occuring. However, two things must be considered:
1) This is not the case in all countries.
2) This does not prevent unscrupulous professionals from lying. The doctor may well inform the patient that they are now receiving x drug, but not inform them that x drug is untested.
Patients should not be given untested drugs outside of clinical trials when they have not (or can not) consent to receive them.
What do you think?