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Testing Interventions for Drastic Public Health Threats: "Social Value”, Pragmatic Risks and the Challenge of ”Health-related Research” Ethics – The Case of drug Resistance

Conference contribution
Authors Christian Munthe
Niels Nijsingh
Karl Persson de Fine Licht
Published in Matariki Research Ethics Workshop, Bader International Study Center, Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, UK, August 14-17, 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Centre for antibiotic resistance research, CARe
Language en
Links https://gup-server.ub.gu.se/v1/asse...
Keywords Drug resistance, Antibiotic resistance, Antimicrobial resistance, Bioethics, Research ethics, CIOMS, World medical Association, Public health
Subject categories Practical philosophy, Ethics, Medical Ethics, Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy, Research policy, Technology and social change


The recently revised CIOMS guidelines radically broaden both that scope of the guidelines from medical to all kinds of health research), and the basis on which such research may be assessed ethically, not least what is called ”social value” of research. This makes these guidelines less on a par with the WMA’s Declaration of Helsinki principles for biomedical research, e.g. with regard to what kind of benefits may justify risks to research subjects and others, and ethical requirements regarding the management of such risks. While DoH still mostly expresses an orthodox individualist research ethical perspective of a sort that has enjoys traditional support in bioethics, but has attracted some criticism from a public health ethical perspective, the new CIOMS guidelines seem to open up for more consideration of collective, institutional and public goods, and possibility of having these traded off against risks to individuals. This paper uses interventions meant to prevent or mitigate problems due to antibiotic resistance as a case in point, to discuss how a sound research ethical regulation should position itself with regard to research regarding health interventions of great importance for (global) public health. A particular focus will be the balancing of individual and collective goods/bads in face of threats of having core institutions and central public goods undermined.

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