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Laurie Cohen - Essay Example

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Laurie Cohen

My contention is that they did and I shall cite reasons in support of this claim.
The use of human test subjects in any study is now governed by a code designed to uphold the rights of the individual involved. This came about after the tragedy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in 1930 where black men were deliberately infected with syphilis and left untreated for forty years finally came to light and more stringent rules on human testing necessitated the formation of committees on bioethics. The Belmont Report, The Nuremberg Code and the Helsinki Declaration all uphold the basic ethical principles that govern use of a human subject in testing. Foremost of these is the presence of an informed consent before an individual is even allowed to become a test subject. Based on this principle, which involves not only a disclosure of all the possible effects on a subjects health but also of the need to review that the individual in question is not under duress ("Ethical Principles for Medical Research," 2000) but should be free of any "ulterior form of constraint or coercion" ("Nuremberg Code," 1949), Eli Lilly has violated the basic principle of informed consent when it agreed to have homeless alcoholics participate in its clinical trials. ...
In the same manner that prisoners, members of the military or students in a university may be subject to undue pressure from the institutions they belong to ("TCPS," 2005), so do the homeless and alcoholics of Indianapolis may be influenced by Eli Lilly, a corporation who has significantly contributed to the growth of their community through shareholding, grants and philanthropic contributions. That and the chance of a free meal and temporary employment (Cohen, 1996) make the issue of their consent highly questionable. As one participant in the study, Mr. La Duke, says, "The only reason I came here is to do a study so I can buy me a car and a new pair of shoes." For most of the homeless, a car is important because it also doubles as a form of shelter and for want of this basic need, the motives of a man prostituting his body for scientific advancement becomes highly suspect. In fact it becomes no different from when a student or a prisoner volunteers to participate in a program because to do so would get one a grade of A or lighten one's prison sentence. The institution, in this case Eli Lilly, has undue influence over the person (homeless alcoholic) because it has the power to provide the person a basic necessity which he would otherwise not have if he did not cooperate.

Another basic principle contributes to my thesis that Eli Lilly has indeed acted unethically in its hiring of the homeless, refers to the principle of beneficence. The Belmont Report (1979) clearly states that, "Persons are treated in an ethical manner not only by respecting their decisions and protecting them from harm, but also by making efforts to ...Show more


In November 14, 1996 Laurie Cohen came out with an article on the Wall Street Journal that pictured the life of an Eli Lilly Medical research volunteer for Phase I Drug Studies (Cohen, 1996). Most of them were members of Indianapolis' homeless and, more often than not, alcohol and drug dependent community…
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