new drug therapies

  1. A number of medical centers around the United States now offer “finders’ fees” to physicians for referring patients to researchers who are conducting trials of new drug therapies, the side effects of which are not yet known. One researcher, for example, was offering physicians a $350 payment for each referred patient who enrolled in the research project. Many physicians accept the fees and make the referrals, apparently without suffering pangs of conscience. Are their actions ethical?
  2. From 1940 to 1970, more than 4,000 radiation experiments were performed on tens of thousands of Americans, many of them poor and uneducated, without their informed consent. Examples of alleged incidents: children in a Massachusetts orphanage were fed radioisotopes; 829 pregnant Tennessee women were fed radioactive iron; patients in Rochester, New York were injected with plutonium; cancer patients in Cincinnati received heavy doses of gamma rays. Not all of these experiments can be attributed to researchers’ ignorance of the harmful effects of radiation; the main purpose of the experiments was to identify those effects rather than to cure the patients. Even so, the researchers do not seem to have thought they were committing a moral offense. Were they?
  3. The consciences of the people in the following cases are confused. As a result, the people cannot decide whether the actions they are contemplating are morally right. Decide for them and present the rationale for your position.

d. An airline pilot goes for his regular medical checkup. The doctor discovers that he has developed a heart murmur. The pilot has only a month to go before he is eligible for retirement. The doctor knows this and wonders whether, under these unusual circumstances, she is justified in withholding the information about the pilot’s condition.

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