Competent Minors and Health-Care Research: Autonomy Does Not Rule, Okay?
Clinical Ethics 2009 December; 4(4): 176-180
A dearth of clinical research involving children has resulted in off-licence and sometimes inappropriate medications being prescribed to the paediatric population. In this environment, recent years have seen the introduction of a raft of regulation aimed at increasing the involvement of children in clinical trials research and generating evidence-based medicinal preparations for their use. However, this regulation pays scant attention to the autonomy of competent minors. In particular, it makes no provision for the ability of competent minors to consent to participate in medical research and is therefore at odds with best ethical practice. This article explores the tensions between law and ethics in relation to clinical research involving minors and concludes that greater respect should be given to the autonomy of those minors who are competent to decide for themselves.
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