Sample Medical Ethics Case Study

In 2004 GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) sponsored at least four medical trials using Hispanic and black children at New York's Incarnation Children's Center. Normally trials on children require parental consent but, as the infants were in care, New York's authorities held that role. Experiments were designed to test the “safety and tolerance” of AIDS medications, some of which have potentially dangerous side effects.[33]

In 2006, GSK and the US Army were criticized for Hepatitis Evaccine experiments conducted in 2003 on 2,000 soldiers of the Royal Nepalese Army. It was said that using soldiers as volunteers is unethical because they "could easily be coerced into taking part."[34]

In January 2012, GSK and two scientists who led the trials were fined approximately $240,000 in Argentina for "experimenting with human beings" and "falsifying parental authorization" during vaccine trials on 15,000 children under the age of one. Babies were recruited from poor families that visited public hospitals for medical treatment. Fourteen babies allegedly died as a result of the trials.[35]

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Advance directives

Ambiguous genitalia



Complementary and Alternative Medicine


Conflict of interest


Continuity of Care


Contract with society

Cost of care

Cultural competence

Decision-making capacity

Defensive medicine




Drug company relations

Duty to inform

Duty to report

Duty to treat

Emergency medicine


End-of-life care



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