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A group of more than 30 researchers from Africa and the United States has demanded that participants in medical trials in developing countries receive "fair benefits" from the research.

Communities involved in medical trials must determine whether they will receive a fair level of benefits, both during and after the research, they say. These benefits could range from making treatments available to health care training, improved medical facilities, and employment prospects.

The researchers, who met last year in Malawi at a conference on the ethical aspects of research in developing countries, argue that current ethical guidance on this topic may not be appropriate.

For example, the Council for International Organisations of the Medical Sciences, which publishes authoritative guidance on this topic, recommends only that proven treatments and knowledge should be made "reasonably available" in the host community.

But the researchers argue that this standard is too narrow, because it focuses on a single benefit that is only relevant to successful clinical trials. Instead, the scientists call for a shift to what they call the Fair Benefits framework, an approach that asks the community involved to decide whether the overall benefits justify the risks.

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Link to researchers' statement in Science

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