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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 02 | Jan. 25, 2001


Policy needs attention


After reading the Globe and Mail series on drug trials in the university, I recognized that human experimentation standards and conflict of interest guidelines vary dramatically across Canadian universities.

However, a quote from Richard Spratley, acting associate vice-president of Research at UBC, suggested that our standards may be too low in comparison to other occupations.

Specifically, when questioned about informing patients of a physician's financial interest in a given study/product, Dr. Spratley supposedly responded, "We don't include that. We look very carefully at the experiment but I am not sure the corporate stuff makes a huge difference." (Globe and Mail, Monday, Jan. 1, page A5.)

However, in the `real' world, disclosure of personal financial interests is the accepted practice.

For example, if a real estate agent owns a portion of property that he/she is selling, they must by law disclose this interest. Failure to do so automatically results in the loss of one's real estate license.

Expecting such disclosure in a doctor/patient relationship appears to me fundamental for truly informed consent to occur.

Moreover failing to comply with standard social norms for conflict of interest issues permits the public to question the motives of the UBC administration.

Although I understand these matters are being reviewed, I believe they should be rectified immediately as they should never have occurred.

Prof. Campbell M. Clark
Psychiatry Dept.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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