A revised version of the Declaration of Helsinki has been drawn up by the World Medical Association and posted on its website for comment by national medical associations, the public, experts and researchers.
These comments will be reviewed by the WMA and a final decision on the Declaration will be taken at the association’s annual General Assembly in Edinburgh in October.
The proposed version was agreed as a working document by the WMA Council at its meeting last month in Divonne-les-Bains, France.
Dr Anders Milton, chairman of the WMA, said: “Members of the WMA have taken the view that the time has come to review this important Declaration and hopefully this review will be finished at our annual assembly.
“It is vital that this Declaration is periodically reviewed to ensure that it remains up to date and relevant to today’s practice. We have consulted widely about revising the Declaration and have received thousands of comments from the public and from the scientific and medical community worldwide.
“There has been widespread support for retaining the existing structure of the Declaration. But naturally an important Declaration concerning the relationship between scientific research and the ethics of the participation of human subjects in research will need to be kept under review.
“However, there are some specific areas where the wording has been changed to strengthen the protection of individuals participating as subjects in scientific research.”
Note to Editors: The Declaration of Helsinki was drawn up in 1964 by the World Medical Association largely as a result of the atrocities of the Second World War, where human subjects were shamelessly used in experimentation. The fact that in some cases physicians were actually an integral part of this unethical activity led to the formation of the WMA in 1947. The aim of the Declaration is to protect patients involved in medical research. The Declaration has been amended on four previous occasions.