The Human Factor: Globalizing Ethical Standards in Drug Trials through Market Exclusion

67 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2008

See all articles by Fazal Khan

Fazal Khan

University of Georgia School of Law

Date Written: April 2008


This Article is part one of a two-part series that seeks to deter unethical clinical drug trials in developing nations by preventing products developed unethically from gaining market approval. In particular, this Article argues for a combination of soft-law techniques, including more robust and subaltern-centric surveillance of international drug trials, and hard-law rules within the regulatory agencies of the United States and European Union (EU) that require clinical drug research to adhere to international ethical standards. The intended result is to create a stiff economic penalty: exclusion from lucrative markets for unethical testing practices. This in turn will create a strong ex ante economic incentive for drug companies to ethically conduct drug trials.

First, this Article outlines how the international community's current medical ethics regime has emerged as a reaction to historical ethical abuses. Next, this Article addresses how globalization has transformed human drug testing trials and, in the process, has rendered inadequate the current ethics regime, which does not operate well across international borders into developing nations. Lastly, this Article describes how soft law, which can work effectively across international borders, can be used to effectuate hard-law sanctions, such as blocking market approval within the United States and the EU to deter unethical practices in clinical drug trials.

Keywords: Drug trials, Globalization, Bioethics

JEL Classification: I1, K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Khan, Fazal, The Human Factor: Globalizing Ethical Standards in Drug Trials through Market Exclusion (April 2008). UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-007. Available at SSRN: or

Fazal Khan (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States

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