MEDICAL RESEARCH: Drew University Case Highlights Need for Oversight
The "ugly history in this country of unethical research ... makes it all the more crucial that researchers in hospitals serving poor and minority populations uphold the highest standards when conducting clinical trials," a Los Angeles Times editorial asserts. Citing the recent voluntary shutdown of 250 research studies at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in South Los Angeles, the editorial argues that the discontinuation of research "makes it clear that some of its researchers were not sufficiently heeding history." Drew's violations are "emblematic" of the national research oversight abuses disclosed by the FDA and the GAO last year the editorial says, adding, "Reform clearly is needed." As a short term solution, the editorial urges Congress to "increase funding for federal oversight, which hasn't remotely kept pace with the explosive growth in the drug and biotechnology industries in the last two decades." For the long term, the editorial advocates a system proposed by USC law and medicine professor Alex Capron that would create "an independent body to accredit each university's system of research oversight, much as an outside group now accredits hospitals." The editorial concludes, "Until reforms are in place, the 5 million Americans participating in medical trials should think about getting a second opinion from a medical expert with no stake in the research. Until federal oversight improves, some patients may have to protect themselves" (5/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.