Commentary: Per capita payments in clinical trials: reasonable costs versus bounty hunting.
Paying more for clinical research than the cost of doing the work may create a conflict of interest that could lead to overzealous recruitment, putting participants and scientific integrity at risk. Thus, although various policies prohibit "finder's fees" simply for recruiting patients, paying the actual costs for research is permissible. Whereas industry-sponsored research routinely pays for the costs of each patient enrolled, the line between reasonable and excessive costs merits more attention. In academic medical centers (AMCs), institutional review boards and conflict of interest committees usually are not involved in reviewing research budgets to determine whether per capita payments are excessive. Also, the costs for clinical services in research are not standardized. Instead, budgets are negotiated both internally, among departments within research institutions, and externally, between researchers and sponsors. Sometimes, rates paid by sponsors exceed what researchers usually receive or are actually paid for particular services, generating a surplus. Nevertheless, the authors see only limited cause for concern because, at the AMCs with which the authors are familiar, any monetary surplus generally remains within the research enterprise to cover unanticipated budget shortfalls or to support research staff in the future during lean times. In addition, the surplus from research budgets is not shared directly with individual investigators. However, further investigation is needed to determine whether practices outside AMCs pose greater concerns.
Hall, MA; Friedman, JY; King, NMP; Weinfurt, KP; Schulman, KA; Sugarman, J
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