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African scientists should not be silent when unethical trials are conducted in their countries, says Gilbert Dechambenoit.

A quarter of all clinical trials are now done in the developing world, but often the research lacks a rigorous ethical framework.

Western researchers or funders tend to shoulder the blame for trials that the international scientific community deems unethical, says Gilbert Dechambenoit in this editorial in the African Journal of Neurological Sciences. But, he argues, African scientists should bear just as much responsibility for unethical scientific practices.

African scientists allowed trials of the HIV drug tenofovir to continue, despite the same trial being halted in Cambodia because of ethical concerns.

This situation might have arisen, says Dechambenoit, because of poor technical capability and little knowledge of bioethics among African scientists. He suggests that another motivation might be the financial benefits arising from trials undertaken in poor countries.

Dechambenoit calls on "members of the scientific and intellectual elite" to ensure that their actions in clinical trials, and in science generally, are guided by ethics and not money.

Link to full article in the African Journal of Neurological Sciences

Read more about research ethics in SciDev.Net's ethics of research dossier.
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