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Compensation for Research-Related Injury in NIH-Sponsored HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials in Africa

Nicole Mamotte, Douglas Wassenaar and Nivedhna Singh
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics: An International Journal
Vol. 8, No. 1 (February 2013), pp. 45-54
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.1525/jer.2013.8.1.45
Stable URL:
Page Count: 10
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Compensation for Research-Related Injury in NIH-Sponsored HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials in Africa
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Concern has been voiced in the research ethics literature that under U.S. federal regulations U.S. sponsors, particularly the NIH, are not required to provide compensation for the treatment of research-related injury for trial participants or to allow grant funds to be used by investigators for appropriate insurance. This is problematic in developing country contexts because most participants are unlikely to have health insurance, resulting in overburdened and under-resourced health systems in many developing countries being responsible for providing care and treatment for research-related injury. This study provides preliminary insight into how respondent principal investigators of NIH-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinical trials in Africa and African research ethics committees deal with compensation for research-related injury. The majority of PIs surveyed provided free treatment for research-related injury, but few provided other forms of financial reparation to participants. The study also found that half of the PIs surveyed indicated that NIH funds were used for compensation, highlighting a contradiction between literature and practice. The majority of REC chairs surveyed indicated that their RECs routinely reviewed compensation plans for research-related injury and that their ethics application forms specifically requested information on compensation. Findings from one southern African country revealed that NIH funds were not used to provide treatment and/or financial reparation for research-related injury. Instead, PIs from this country relied on the government or the individual research participant (and/or their medical aid/health insurer) to cover the costs of research-related injury. The findings are discussed in the light of the recent (December 2011) U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethics report which recommends that research participants are morally entitled to compensation for research-related injury.

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