The academic literature in research ethics has been marked in the past decade by a much broader focus on the need for the protection of developing communities subjected to international clinical trials. Because of the proximity of the revision of the Declaration of Helsinki, completed in October 2008, most papers have addressed the issue of a double standard of care following the use of placebo. However, other no less important issues, such as interactions between the lifestyles structures of low-income communities and the efficiency of risk-minimising procedures also deserve attention. The purpose of this paper is to discuss forms of uncertainty involved in clinical trials in poor and low-income countries that are not addressed by conventional methods of risk assessment. Furthermore, the increase in size of risks that are identified by conventional assessment methods will be addressed. Besides, the difficulty in properly applying risk-minimising procedures will be discussed. Finally, this paper proposes the involvement of research ethics committees in the risk evaluation process and the establishment of national ethics evaluation systems.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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