News of the WeekBioethics

Panel Pulls Back Report After NIH Critique

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Science  30 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5390, pp. 857-859
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5390.857

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A last-minute fax from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week has apparently sent the president's National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) scrambling to revise some of its recommendations on new research guidelines. The guidelines, in the works for 14 months, are intended to tighten up rules on patient consent to ensure that subjects with mental disorders are capable of understanding the research projects they agree to join. NIH claims that these new guidelines could bring some kinds of research to a grinding halt, and that NBAC should avoid focusing only on mental health and instead consider all brain disorders that might impair decision-making.