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Paying physicians to recruit patients into trials: The ethical concerns

A policy paper in PLoS Medicine shines a light on the legal and ethical issues surrounding so-called "finder's fees"--payments to health professionals for successfully recruiting patients into clinical trials.

Trudo Lemmens and Paul Miller, from the University of Toronto, say that the increasing prevalence of such recruitment incentives is directly related to growing competition between research sponsors. The fees offered to health professionals for successful recruitment can be substantial, they say--finder's fees ranging between $2,000 and $5,000 per patient are common.

Lemmens and Miller outline a number of concerns raised by finder's fees and other types of incentives. The prospect of these fees, they say, "may interfere with the judgment of physicians trusted by patients to act in their best interests." Other concerns include the risk of compromising patient safety and the erosion of public trust in clinical research.

"The problems raised by finder's fees cannot be resolved by focusing exclusively on sanctioning the individuals who may accept them," say Lemmens and Miller. Instead, they argue that the problems ought to be addressed "as part of a broader institutional and regulatory reform effort designed to address weaknesses in research governance."


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Contact: Andrew Hyde
press@plos.org
44-122-346-3330
Public Library of Science
31-Jul-2006


Page: 1

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