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Questioning the ethics of international research on formula milk supplementation in low-income African countries
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  • Published on:
    Should academic journals appoint ethics experts to their editorial boards?
    • Robert J Torrance, Physician; DrPH candidate in Public Health & Policy London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

    Dear Editor,

    It is with great interest that I read Doherty et al.’s commentary in which the authors express concern about the ethical appropriateness of a randomised controlled trial that had received ethical approval. Doherty et al.’s study serves as a valuable reminder that a study is not ethical simply because it has received ethical approval, as previous studies have also emphasised.1 One might also add that just because a study has reported having obtained ethical approval, it cannot be assumed that the study has adhered to the recommendations of the research ethics committee or informed the committee of its plans in full. Doshi (2020) reported on bioethicist Charles Wiejer’s concern that a randomised controlled trial of malaria vaccine Mosquirix had waived the requirement of informed consent.2 Weijer was quoted as saying “It is difficult to see how a research ethics committee could have approved a waiver of consent for the WHO malaria vaccine pilot cluster randomized trial.”2 These studies raise the question of whether academic journals should play a greater role in scrutinising the ethical appropriateness of studies submitted for publication?

    As a doctoral student with a keen interest in public health ethics, I previously attended weekly editorial board meetings of a major scientific journal with the sole purpose of interrogating the submitted studies for ethical issues. In these meetings, I raised serious questions about some of the studies that had r...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.