IRB: Ethics & Human Research

Power Concedes Nothing without a Demand: The Case for a Patient Boycott of U.S. Clinical Trials

At the heart of the United States medical research enterprise is a tremendous injustice. Unlike virtually every other country in the developed world, the United States does not guarantee payment for the medical care of subjects injured in research studies. Since 1972, every national commission that has looked at the issue has concluded that it is ethically wrong to hold injured research subjects responsible for paying their own medical bills, yet the injustice persists. The situation is unlikely to change unless research subjects exercise the only real power they have: boycotting research studies that do not offer paid medical care for subjects who are injured. 

Key words: clinical trials, human research subjects, compensation for research-related injuries, injured research participants