A critique of clinical equipoise. Therapeutic misconception in the ethics of clinical trials

Hastings Cent Rep. 2003 May-Jun;33(3):19-28.


A predominant ethical view holds that physician-investigators should conduct their research with therapeutic intent. And since a physician offering a therapy wouldn't prescribe second-rate treatments, the experimental intervention and the best proven therapy should appear equally effective. "Clinical equipoise" is necessary. But this perspective is flawed. The ethics of research and of therapy are fundamentally different, and clinical equipoise should be abandoned.

MeSH terms

  • Beneficence
  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Disclosure / ethics
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Financial Support / ethics
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / ethics*
  • Research Support as Topic / economics
  • Research Support as Topic / ethics
  • Therapeutic Human Experimentation / economics
  • Therapeutic Human Experimentation / ethics*
  • Uncertainty