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Patients Should Be Entitled to "Humane Compensation" if Drug Trials Go Wrong

Professor Desmond Laurence, of the University of London says that most clinical trial patients are under the wrong impression that they compensated for any problem that // arises with the drug. This situation is prevailing because of contracts that are badly worded and do not make anything clear to the patients.

The British Medical Journal reported that accidental and unintentional injuries do sometimes occur during clinical trials and patients are left in the lurch, but the government contends that people are informed about the risks. "If the law were to be observed, patients would be told frankly, in words lay people could readily understand, that they might be seriously injured but with merely discretionary compensation," Professor Laurence wrote in a letter to the BMJ. He said that the wording of most contracts was dubious at most and was not convincing either to an observer of the patients. "The trial sponsor of course may always pay ex-gratia compensation, if it cares to. But if it does not, then the cost of compensation for non-negligent harm falls up on the injured patients themselves," Professor Laurence said. He however admitted that if the volunteers came to know that they were not entitled to any compensation, the number of people showing up at clinical trials will definitely suffer. He cited an example of the wording of a contract to show what he meant, "[The sponsor] will pay compensation for [non-negligent harm]. Any payment would be without legal commitment."

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