Paying physicians to recruit patients into trials: The ethical concerns

Press release from PLoS Medicine

A policy paper in PLoS Medicine shines a light on the legal and ethical issues surrounding so-called "finder's fees"--payments to health professionals for successfully recruiting patients into clinical trials.

Trudo Lemmens and Paul Miller, from the University of Toronto, say that the increasing prevalence of such recruitment incentives is directly related to growing competition between research sponsors. The fees offered to health professionals for successful recruitment can be substantial, they say--finder's fees ranging between $2,000 and $5,000 per patient are common.

Lemmens and Miller outline a number of concerns raised by finder's fees and other types of incentives. The prospect of these fees, they say, "may interfere with the judgment of physicians trusted by patients to act in their best interests." Other concerns include the risk of compromising patient safety and the erosion of public trust in clinical research.

"The problems raised by finder's fees cannot be resolved by focusing exclusively on sanctioning the individuals who may accept them," say Lemmens and Miller. Instead, they argue that the problems ought to be addressed "as part of a broader institutional and regulatory reform effort designed to address weaknesses in research governance."

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Citation: Lemmens T, Miller PB (2006) Regulating the market in human research participants. PLoS Med 3(8): e330.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030330

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-08-lemmens.pdf

CONTACT:
Trudo Lemmens
University of Toronto
Faculty of Law
78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M52C5 Canada
+1-416-978-4201
trudo.lemmens@utoronto.ca

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit http://www.plosmedicine.org

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org


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