The randomised controlled trial (RCT) constitutes a quantitative, comparative, controlled study of a particular treatment, and provides invaluable evidence regarding its pharmacotherapeutic efficacy. These studies are generally predicated upon the ethical principle of clinical equipoise. However, this may be insufficient to justify withholding treatment from a control group while assessing drug therapy in a potentially fatal disease. Thus, the criteria for randomisation, informed consent methodology and timing, and consideration of treatment options in such a scenario remain the province of medical ethics. This paper addresses the need for an RCT of ribavirin in the treatment of Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever, and highlights underlying ethical concerns in light of the current medical, virological and ethical literature.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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