Ads: Determining Consent Amongst Consumers

Jill Fisher is interested in the ways by which human subjects are introduced to the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, and how protected and informed those populations truly are. ‘Ready-to-Recruit’ or ‘Ready-to-Consent’ Populations? considers three case studies that exemplify some implicit problems currently inherent in the process. Although consent is not formally confirmed until the necessary paperwork is signed, it perhaps really begins with advertising. Advertising often does not adequately inform the subject about the nature of the clinical trials, and sometimes implants an image about the clinical trial that leads the subject to believe it may offer some sort of ‘magic bullet cure.’ Fisher draws particular attention to the fact that clinical trials assume the form of a problematic and limited resource for disenfranchised groups in society who, inevitably for the wrong reasons, allow themselves to be exploited by this process.

The first case study is about a Latina woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Applying for the clinical trial enabled access to a study medication, yet exposed the subject to considerable risk. In this particular case, the clinical trial promised no therapeutic benefit, yet the woman and her son insisted on the benefits of participating in the study (for example receiving a free MRI scan). Fisher suggests by this example that the consent had already been gained from the advertisement, and that the informed consent visit only provided new justification for that consent. The second case study provides the example of a woman who applies for a clinical trial in order to receive medication she could otherwise not afford. This then makes her apprehensive when the clinical trial approaches the end, and that medication which was found to be effective will no longer be accessible to her. The last cast study is about a woman who is anxious to participate in a clinical trial because of the financial compensation she expects to receive, and therefore overlooks the potential risks involved.

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