An analysis of common ethical justifications for compassionate use programs for experimental drugs

BMC Medical Ethics 2016 17:60
Author: Kasper Raus
“When a new intervention or drug is developed, this has to pass through various phases of clinical testing before it achieves market approval, which can take many years. This raises an issue for drugs which could benefit terminally ill patients. These patients might set their hopes on the experimental drug but are unable to wait since they are likely to pass away before the drug is available. As a means of nevertheless getting access to experimental drug, many seriously ill and terminally ill patients are therefore very willing to participate in randomised controlled trials. However, only very few terminally ill patients are able to actually participate, and those that do participate are at risk of participating solely as a way of getting experimental drugs. Currently, there are, however, ways of getting access to drugs that have not (yet) gained market approval. One such mean is via expanded access or compassionate use programs where terminally ill patients receive experimental new drugs that are not yet market approved. In this paper, I examine some of the common justifications for such programs.”
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