Thursday, February 02, 2006

Disclosure of Researchers' Financial Interests to Subjects Recommended

A couple of UCLA law professors have published a research paper exploring stem cell research and the law, ranging from informed consent to the law of human tissue to patents.

Russell Korobkin and Stephen Munzer prepared the 112-page research paper published by the UCLA School of Law. Dated this month, it is a thorough and timely overview of the issues.

A couple of items caught our attention. One of their recommendations calls for full disclosure of the financial interests of researchers to their human subjects.
"Requiring such disclosure would not, despite what the court asserts, 'chill medical research.' Further, the autonomy principle suggests that disclosure of financial interests is even greater in non-therapeutic contexts where subjects lack the incentive to participate in research in order to obtain direct health benefits. The law should require the full disclosure of scientists’financial interests, if any, in the results of their research."

They also support some sort of compensation for donors, a position the California stem cell agency opposes. They wrote that it "should be possible for donors to receive non-cash compensation and for 'disease groups' to negotiate for royalties or treatment."

They continued:
"The greatest concerns with undermining human dignity arise in the context of the sale of embryos, for they have the potential to develop into human beings. Even in this context, however, we are wary of prohibitions. There is reason to believe that human dignity is better protected if the availability of compensation for unused embryos enables people , who otherwise could not afford IVF, to use that process to create a baby."

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