Commission members and experts discussion a pedi anthrax trial

Interesting comments were made at the last meeting of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, reported on the Commission blog.  They include the following:

Anita Allen, J.D., Ph.D., Commission member and Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania: “Military families are subject to extraordinary pressures on the need to conform and obey; military children are disproportionately separated from their families… Maybe military families are not the best place to go for experimentation.”

Alexander G. Garza, M.D., M.P.H., Commission member and Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security: “After having received the anthrax and smallpox vaccine I can still walk and chew gum at the same time. That being said, we’re talking about two different worlds when we talk about vaccines for influenza and for anthrax. We know a lot about the influenza virus. We don’t know a lot about the anthrax vaccine.”

John Arras, Commission member and Porterfield Professor of Biomedical Ethics at the University of Virginia: “I’m reminded in this context of Hans Jonas’s famous article where he argues that research subjects are best recruited if they are most knowledgeable about the subject and most enthusiastic. We may want to look for volunteers at CDC, NIH, and Ft Detrick.”

David Wendler leads the Vulnerable Populations Unit in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center’s Bioethics Department.  He led a discussion about minimal risk, and noted, “Essentially, you shouldn’t be doing this on people who don’t understand what you are doing unless you have to.” 

For transcripts relevant to a pediatric anthrax vaccine trial, you can read transcripts from the meeting (Sessions 8-11) here.

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