Outsourcing of Drug Trials: A Marketing Ethics Perspective
The current research focusses on the background of outsourcing drug trials and suggests how we can market such efforts in a more ethical manner. While research and data on outsourcing of drug trials is ubiquitous, precious little has been done to get to the root of such practice. Given that more than half of all US-based drug trial sites and 78% of all trial subjects were enrolled outside of the U.S, questionable practices can potentially happen at multiple stages of the process: design, framing of rules, obtaining consent of participants, administration of the trial, interpretation of results, following up on promises to patients and so on. Outsourcing drug trials have assumed alarming proportions because of several reasons, such as the rapid growth of market size and regulatory access in developing nations, economies of scale due to recruitment in large numbers, streamlining of guidelines etc. Concurrently however, such trials have come under the lens due to questionable operational procedures. The authorraises inherent ethical concerns (‘consents’ voluntary? guidelines strictly enforced? lab conditions appropriate? personnel properly trained? drugs being tried relevant to the subject population?...) by revisiting extant literature, case studies, interviews with drug company executives, agents and representatives of trial companies, and local touts in countries where such trials are most rampant. The author believes there is tremendous value in such endeavor: on one hand, it will make the practice of outsourcing more ethical and streamlined; on the other, the current research will help market global drug trials to other countries in a considerably transparent manner, thereby leaving little—if any, doubt in the minds of the participants. Consequently, the author believes that this topic will be of great interest among the participants of your multidisciplinary conference.