Legal prerequisites for clinical trials under the revised Declaration of Helsinki and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine

Eur J Health Law. 2000 Jun;7(2):105-21. doi: 10.1163/15718090020523106.


Biomedical research is a perennially controversial subject. While the provisions of the Revised Declaration of Helsinki enjoy world-wide acceptance, they are increasingly placed in question--not least by the Council of Europe's Bioethics Convention, which allows non-therapeutic research in restricted cases on those incapable of giving informed consent. Taking as its starting-point the fundamental conflict between the general interest in research and the individual interests of the patients concerned, this article analyses the conditions under which medical experimentation on human beings is permissible. The article recognises the model of risk/benefit analysis and the doctrine of informed consent as equally valid core principles which do not conflict with restricted, non-therapeutic research, whether on patients who lack the capacity to consent or in placebo-controlled trials.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Helsinki Declaration
  • Human Experimentation*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Mental Competency
  • Nontherapeutic Human Experimentation*
  • Placebos
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk*
  • Therapeutic Human Experimentation


  • Placebos