PHI 3200 A Right To Experimental Drugs

PHI 3200 A Right to Experimental Drugs

Medical science has made significant strides, but much remains to be achieved. Clinical trials and research studies, overseen by regulatory bodies like the FDA, are crucial for evaluating new treatments and interventions. These trials involve individuals who meet specific criteria, ensuring accurate results.

Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for participation in clinical trials, and this exclusion can present challenges for individuals seeking relief or life-extending alternatives for their illnesses. The options for those not meeting the specific requirements may be limited, and access to experimental drugs may be restricted. This raises an ethical dilemma: Should non-qualified patients be allowed access to experimental drugs?

PHI 3200 A Right to Experimental Drugs

When grappling with complex decisions involving patients, healthcare providers rely on fundamental moral principles such as nonmaleficence (not harm), beneficence (do good), justice (fairness), and autonomy (respect for individual decision-making). 

Additionally, ethical theories like utilitarianism, Kant or Ross’ ethics, deontology, and natural law guide clinicians in applying these principles to patient care. By considering these principles and theories, healthcare providers ensure that patients are not unjustly harmed, are treated fairly, and that their decision-making and treatment choices are respected.

Clinicians should carefully weigh the ethical theories of utilitarianism and autonomy for unqualified patients seeking access to experimental drugs. Utilitarianism suggests that allowing these patients access to experimental medicines offers a potential solution to alleviate their suffering and promote happiness. It may be ethically acceptable. These individuals could be considered for compassionate use of experimental drugs outside the formal clinical trials, provided that the benefits outweigh the potential risks (Moynihan, 2020). 

PHI 3200 A Right to Experimental Drugs

Although the outcomes cannot be guaranteed, patients should have the option and right to exercise autonomy in making decisions about their bodies and participating in research studies while also considering their moral and religious beliefs. Informed consent, obtained through a transparent and comprehensive discussion between physicians and patients, is vital in ensuring patients fully understand the risks, benefits, and potential alternatives associated with experimental treatments.

Informed consent is a cornerstone of medical research and contemporary healthcare practices. It entails physicians providing detailed information about the research processes, the benefits, risks, and complications of participation without withholding any relevant information. Furthermore, physicians must consider the patient’s and their family’s level of understanding and take measures to ensure comprehension. 

Informed consent serves not only as a legal requirement but also as an ethical imperative, enabling individuals who do not qualify for other research studies to have access to alternative treatment options. However, physicians must exercise caution to avoid coercing or overwhelming patients during the consent process, as overwhelming situations may compromise patients’ ability to provide genuine consent and affect their autonomy (Bester et al., 2016).

PHI 3200 A Right to Experimental Drugs

Another crucial consideration when offering unapproved experimental drugs is balancing the potential benefits, associated costs, and complications. For some patients, experimental drugs may represent their last hope for life-saving treatment, especially when FDA-approved medications have failed or

 No alternative treatments are available. Offering unapproved experimental drugs provides potential benefits to the patients involved and contributes to advancing medical knowledge, discovering new cures, and improving medical practices. However, it is essential to acknowledge that unapproved drugs may come with unknown complications and side effects, posing risks to patients and physicians. 

Additionally, the financial aspect of offering unapproved medications raises questions about funding. Many individuals struggle to afford regular check-ups and hospital visits. These costs may fall on the government and taxpayers, potentially creating a financial dilemma for the patient and their families. If a drug still needs to be approved for distribution, who bears the financial responsibility for the treatments, monitoring, and further testing?

PHI 3200 A Right to Experimental Drugs

The debate surrounding the expanded use and availability of experimental drugs involves diverse arguments and perspectives. Individuals have personal reasons for supporting or opposing the offering of experimental drugs to a broader pool of patients. From a personal standpoint, many have witnessed the suffering caused by terminal illnesses. 

They would agree that if an experimental drug were available, they would want their loved ones to have the opportunity to try it, potentially improving their quality of life. For instance, Frank Burroughs sued the FDA after his daughter was denied participation in a clinical trial for her terminal cancer (Mahant, 2020). 

Had she been given a chance, with respect for her autonomy and the principles of utilitarianism, she might still be alive today. On the other hand, opponents of expanded access to experimental drugs, such as politicians and investors, often raise concerns about the financial costs and the potential risks associated with medicines that have not undergone rigorous vetting and approval processes.

In conclusion, medical advancements and human rights elicit various opinions and perspectives. Finding common ground between these differing viewpoints is crucial for the progress of both science and the well-being of individuals. 

PHI 3200 A Right to Experimental Drugs

While remarkable strides have been made in medical science, much work remains. The recent expedited process for COVID-19 vaccinations approved by the FDA has shown that life-saving drugs can be developed in shorter timeframes. 

By practicing utilitarianism, respecting individuals’ autonomy, and ensuring comprehensive informed consent, we can foster medical advancements while honoring personal decisions and ethical considerations. Through open dialogue and careful moral analysis, we can navigate the complex terrain of medical research and promote the well-being of patients and society.


  1. Mahant, V. (2020, June 23). “Right-To-Try” experimental drugs: An overview. Journal of Translational Medicine.
  2. Bester, J., Cole, C. M., & Kodish, E. (2016, September 1). The limits of informed consent for an Overwhelmed Patient: Clinicians’ role in protecting patients and PREVENTING Overwhelm. Journal of Ethics | American Medical Association.
  3. Raghavan, Derek, M.D., PhD. (2018). Right-to-try legislation: Primum non nocere just went out the window. HEM/ONC Today, 19(12), 8.
  4. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (n.d.). Medicine in the 20th century. Encyclopædia Britannica.
  1. Bateman-House, A. (2017, August 31). Try an experimental drug when you do not qualify for a clinical trial. Forbes.
  2. Timothy J. Moynihan, M. D. (2020, February 12). Interested in trying experimental treatments? Mayo Clinic.

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