Patient Access to Experimental Drugs Experimental Drugs Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Patient Access to Experimental Drugs

Experimental drugs are being used in treating cancer and other life-threatening diseases in the hopes that effective cures and treatments can be identified. There are however, ethical questions relating to the use of experimental drugs and this work seeks to answer the question that asks whether patients should have access to experimental drugs and to answer why or why they should not have this access.

Experimental Drugs

Experimental drugs have carved inroads to treating cancer patients and most recently; this has been reported in the form of a drug that serves to "neutralize two mechanisms cancers need to survive." (Coghlan, 2012) The new drug is Cabozantinib. This drug is reported by one individual interviewed in this study to have been used by a family member who died while taking the drug for non-small cell carcinoma in the form of lung cancer. When asked the question of how this individual feels about the ethics of the use of this drug which played a part in the death of a family member, the individual stated that she feels that it is not ethically wrong because the drug is now advancing in treating cancer and that was the reason the family member participation in the Mayo Clinic trial of this drug in 2001[footnoteRef:1] however, there are others who disagree with this stance. [1: Anonymous Interviewee 28 Mar 2012]

II. Examination of Ethics in Experimental Drug Use

Ethics are in the form of both 'normative' ethics and 'nonnormative ethics' and it is reported that nonnormative ethics are inclusive of: (1) descriptive ethics -- or the factual investigation of moral conduct and beliefs, which makes use of scientific techniques to study how individuals reason and act. (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001, paraphrased); and (2) metaethics -- involves the analysis of the "language, concepts and methods of reasoning in ethics…[and] addresses the meanings of ethical terms such as 'right', 'obligation', 'virtue', 'justification, 'morality', and 'responsibility'." (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001, p.2)

III. Defining Ethics

In the most familiar definition morality makes reference to that which is 'right and wrong' concerning the conduct of human beings that are accepted on such a wide basis that they serve to formulate a social consensus that is stable in nature that includes standards of conduct along with principles of morality as well as rules, rights and virtues of the individual and the society at large. The question of ethics then is derived from that which is deemed as socially acceptable, normal and agreed upon within the society.

IV. Experimental Drug Use

Experimental drug use has a long history in terms of its use for indeed are not most drugs experimental when first introduced for use? Consider the use of the polio vaccination when it was new and the use of a myriad of other vaccinations and treatments. It is impossible to know if experimental drugs are effective until they are used experimentally. That is simply part of the process of identifying effective drugs and treatment options and part…

Sources Used in Document:


Beauchamp, TL and Childress, JF (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Oxford University Press. 15 Feb 2001. Retrieved from:

Coghlan, A.K (2012) New Cancer Drug Sabotages Tumor's Escape Route. 24 Feb 2012. New Scientist. Retrieved from:

Beauchamp, TL and Childress, JF (2001) Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Oxford University Press. 15 Feb 2001. Retrieved from:

Neergard, L. (2012) Group: Drug Study Unethical. ABC News. 23 Feb 2012. Retrieved from:

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