LONDON (Reuters Health) Oct 10 - Revisions to the Declaration of Helsinki newly adopted by the World Medical Association (WMA) hold researchers to the standard of "the best current prophylactic, diagnostic, and therapeutic methods" for research and follow-up treatment.
On Saturday, the 52nd General Assembly of the WMA, held in Edinburgh, Scotland, unanimously voted to strengthen protections for individual research subjects and for the populations of host countries.
"No population in any country should be used as a guinea pig without benefiting from the results of the research," Dr. Anders Milton of Sweden, chairman of the World Medical Association, told Reuters Health. As an example, he said, "When human research is carried out in a country, there should be a reasonable chance of the drug being used there."
Dr. Milton added, "We also say that for individuals participating in a study, either the control group or the test group, that at the conclusion of the study they should have access to the best proven treatment for the disease state in question."
Long considered the "cornerstone of research ethics," the Declaration of Helsinki calls for "absolute transparency regarding economic incentives involved in research," said Dr. Delon Human, Secretary General of the WMA.
Not only must subjects be adequately informed regarding risks and benefits in language they can understand, but institutional affiliations and possible conflicts of interest must be clarified to subjects, ethical review committees and publishers.
The WMA is an independent confederation of professional national associations from approximately 70 countries and represents 8 million doctors.
This is the fifth time that the Helsinki document has been revised since
its adoption in 1964. The full text of the revised declaration is available
on the WMA Web site at www.wma.net.