Doctors Paid for Market Testing among Their Patients; ETHICS
DOCTORS were criticised yesterday for not disclosing cash payments they receive from drug companies to recruit trial patients.
Some of these trials were no more than ``marketing thinly disguised as research'' aimed at familiarising doctors with new and recently licensed products, said two experts in medical ethics writing in the British Medical Journal. The payments can amount to thousands of pounds per patient.
Dr Jammi Rao, chairman of West Midlands Multicentre Research Ethics Committee, and Louis Sant Cassia, chairman of the Coventry Research Ethics Committee, wrote: ``The size of payment and not the buzz of research is what motivates doctors to join such trials.''
Well organised general practices in the UK could earn an extra pounds 15,000 annually for three hours' work a week, they said.
As a result, trials designed by noncommercial sponsors aiming to answer clinically important questions failed to attract doctors.
So-called postmarket Phase IV studies, which made no attempt to address important areas of clinical uncertainty, were the biggest culprit.
``A system that allows commercially driven and clinically dubious research to crowd out good and much needed clinical trials, and that denies patients the opportunity to put their altruism to the best possible use, is unethical and unacceptable,'' the authors wrote.
Royal College of Physicians guidelines say that per capita payments, especially for postmarketing studies, are unethical. …