European Survey on Ethical and Legal Framework of Clinical Trials in Paediatrics: Results and Perspectives
Journal International de Bioéthique = International Journal of Bioethics 2008 September; 19(3): 17-48
This article constitutes a synthesis and analysis of the results of the "Survey on the ethical and legal frameworks existing in Europe for paediatric clinical trials" carried out by the European network TEDDY. TEDDY is a "Network of Excellence" funded by the Sixth EU Framework Programme (FP6). It began its activities in June 2005 and it is scheduled to run until 2010. It involves 19 partners in 11 countries. The overall goal of TEDDY is to promote the availability of safe and effective medicines to children in Europe by integrating existing expertise and the good practices. In the domain of ethics, the main aim of TEDDY is raise the awareness of the public and researchers concerning issues linked to biomedical research in paediatrics, by contributing to developing the debate on the ethical and legal stakes, as well as the potential deviations, in order to ensure the best possible protection of children participating in clinical trials. This study, with twenty-seven participating countries (23 EU Member States and 4 countries associated to the Fifth and Sixth EU Framework Programme), proposes to highlight the existing differences in the legislation of European countries concerning the procedure of consent, as well as the guarantee of the paediatric expertise within the Ethics Committees which are in charge of evaluating research protocols. The study shows that, even though the Directive 2001/20/EC has been transposed, the value attributed to the consent of minors who participate in clinical trials is different depending on the European state. Despite the general rule of having the written consent of the legal representative of the minor, over a certain age (different in relation to each state) and under certain conditions, to give the consent alone to participate in biomedical research. Furthermore, there is an Ethics Committee for minors in only four countries. In addition, we illustrate the lack of information and in-depth debate in Europe concerning the ethical stakes of clinical trials in paediatrics. An overview of possible legal deviations is also presented.
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