Intended for healthcare professionals


Phase one trials can exploit terminally ill patients

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 12 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:679
  1. G McBride

    Fears are emerging in the US that terminally ill patients who take part in phase one trials of chemotherapy are being exploited. A recent pilot study carried out by the department of haematology and oncology at Chicago University's centre for clinical medical ethics suggests that patients gave their informed consent because they believed in the possibility of therapeutic benefit. The 27 patients in the study were also asked whether, as is required, other options besides participation in the trial were discussed during the informed consent process; two thirds said no.

    The purpose of phase one trials of chemotherapy - performed in the US mostly with solid tumours - is to test the toxicity of increasing doses of an experimental agent. Clearly, if the drug is …

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