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Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;19:297-315. doi: 10.1007/7854_2014_337.

Money and morals: ending clinical trials for financial reasons.

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Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.


Too often, biopharmaceutical companies stop their clinical trials solely for financial reasons. In this chapter, we discuss this phenomenon against the backdrop of a 2011 decision by Geron Corporation to abandon its stem cell clinical trial for spinal cord injury (SCI), the preliminary results of which were released in May 2014. We argue that the resultant harms are widespread and are different in nature from the consequences of stopping trials for scientific or medical reasons. We examine the ethical and social effects that arise from such decisions and discuss them in light of ethical frameworks, including duties of individual stakeholders and corporate sponsors. We offer ways that sponsors and clinical sites can ensure that trials are responsibly started, and once started adequately protect the interests of participants. We conclude with recommendations that industry sponsors of clinical trials should adopt in order to advance a collective and patient-centered research ethic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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