Is "therapeutic research" a misnomer?

Lucas, Peter orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5391-3087 (2010) Is "therapeutic research" a misnomer? In: Arguments and Analysis in Bioethics. Values enquiry book series (214). Brill, Amsterdam, pp. 229-239. ISBN 9789042028029

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The distinction between therapeutic and non-therapeutic research is a familiar one in research ethics. This chapter argues that the term “therapeutic research” is a misnomer. I consider two broad types of ostensibly therapeutic research: controlled trials, and innovative/experimental treatments. I argue that in the former case the term therapeutic research is a misnomer because no reasonable researcher can expect patients/subjects to derive any therapeutic advantage from being entered into an ethically conducted controlled trial. In the latter case, while accepting that there may well be a reasonable expectation of therapeutic benefit from innovative treatments, I argue that the decision whether it is in the interests of a given patient to receive a given treatment is properly made on purely clinical grounds. There is no special feature of the research situation, in either of these types of case, which serves to ensure that participation, qua research subject, is in a patient’s interests.

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