PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 2 A Right to Experimental Drugs?

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A Right to Experimental Drugs?

 As a Registered Nurses working in the Healthcare Industry, Nurses are faced with ethical dilemmas almost daily when taking care of patients. As nurses, it is important to know, understand and apply moral principles and ethical theories to resolve any dilemma. Moral principles include beneficence, autonomy, justice, and nonmaleficence. Ethical theories include utilitarianism, Ross’s ethics, Kantian and natural law of ethics. In this assessment, it will focus on the moral and ethical right to administer unproven drugs to patients with no other treatment options.

Informed Consent

Informed consent is an ethical concept that is codified in the law and is in daily practice at every healthcare institution. Three fundamental criteria are needed for clinical informed consent; the patient must be competent, adequately informed, and not coerced. (Cocanour, 2017). Informed consent is required for patients having any type of surgery or test. The benefits and risks involved need to be explained to the patient and if they have any questions, they should be answered. If a patient decided to start a medication trial, they must be given as much information about the trial as possible even though the risks are unknown. It should be explained and the principle of autonomy allows the patient to make the decision if they want to join the trial or not regarding their health.

Cost and Benefit of Unapproved Experimental Drugs

The drug industry is a multi-billion-dollar business. Drug manufacturing is expensive and patients without insurance pay a lot of money to get the medication they need to maintain their health. It is important to remember that some insurance companies do not cover the cost of experimental drugs or treatments. The use of experimental drugs is limited but it can help patients who have used all other treatment options. The cost of medication manufacturing for experimental drugs will increase if they are more people in the trial. The effect of the medication is unknown. With any medication trial, there is a possibility it will help the patient’s illness, live longer or have a cure. This will be beneficial to the patient and those who have and is suffering from the same illness as the patient.  The downside will be not having any cure or decreasing the patient’s life expectancy. 

PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 2 A Right to Experimental Drugs?

The “Right-to-Try” experimental drugs act passed by Donald Trump in 2018 provides an opportunity for early access to experimental drugs for the treatment of life-threatening diseases and is a potential boon to many young and under-capitalized biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies. (Mahant V, 2020). It is important to consider any patient who applies for the trial, and their comorbidity risks because it can affect the treatment outcome, worsen the adverse effect due to polypharmacy, and may even shorten the life expectancy. The prognosis of patients with comorbidity has a poor survival rate and a higher financial cost. 

Pre-approved Drugs

The ethical principle of do not harm is learned in nursing school and is practice by medical professionals. Pre-approved medication can be useful to patients who have exhausted all other treatment options. It can also be dangerous because it is not approved by the FDA pose a risk to the patient life because of unknown side effects. Every drug has side effects, patient have to speak with their healthcare provider to see if the benefits out weighted the cons. 

PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 2 A Right to Experimental Drugs?


A patient who has a terminal illness should have access to unproven medication but they must and should be given all the information about the risk, benefits, and financial cost so that the patient can make an informed decision if they would like to join the trial or not. Informed consent needs to be completed by the doctor so that the patient has all the correct and appropriate information. The final decision is up to the patient. 


Cocanour, C. S. (2017). Informed consent-it’s more than a signature on a piece of paper. The American Journal of Surgery, 214(6), 993-997. 

Mahant V. “Right-to-Try” experimental drugs: an overview. J Transl Med. 2020 Jun 23;18(1):253. doi: 10.1186/s12967-020-02427-4. PMID: 32576276; PMCID: PMC7309195.