Virtual clinical trials have entered the medical research landscape. Today’s clinical trials recruit subjects online, obtain informed consent online, send treatments such as medications or devices to the subjects’ homes, and require subjects to record their responses online. Virtual clinical trials could be a way to democratize clinical research and circumvent geographical limitations by allowing access to clinical research for people who live far from traditional medical research centers. But virtual clinical trials also depart dramatically from traditional medical research studies in ways that can harm individuals and the public at large. This article addresses the issues presented by virtual clinical trials with regard to: (1) recruitment methods; (2) informed consent; (3) confidentiality; (4) potential risks to the subjects; and (5) the safety and efficacy of treatments that are approved.
& Alexandra Franco,
Virtual Clinical Trials: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back,
19 J. Health Care L. & Pol'y
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/jhclp/vol19/iss2/2