Delayed decision on Helsinki declaration
The World Medical Association (WMA) wrapped its annual assembly last week without deciding whether to make controversial changes to the part of the Declaration of Helsinki that deals with the obligation to continue treating clinical trial participants after a study is over.
The WMA had been considering whether to modify or clarify paragraph 30 of the declaration — which says that at the end of a study every patient should be assured of access to the best proved treatments identified by the study. Some have claimed that such a change would weaken the document and leave patients in developing countries at risk.
Discussions at the conference centred on a report from a working group set up to look at the issue in detail. But it was deemed necessary to continue discussions, with the WMA's secretary general, Delon Human, saying it would be unwise to revise the declaration "prematurely".
Reference: BMJ 327, 642 (2003)