The Wiley Protocol: an analysis of ethical issues

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Abstract

Objective:

This review explores the ethical issues surrounding an unregulated protocol that is advertised to women through consumer books, the popular press, and the Internet, known as the Wiley Protocol.

Design:

A content analysis of relevant documents was conducted, followed by telephone interviews with investigators and former participants to verify facts.

Results:

The Wiley Protocol is an example of unregulated research involving potentially unsafe doses of bioidentical hormones applied to an unselected population of women. This protocol fails to use research ethics guidelines such as informed consent, investigator expertise, sound methodology, standardized data collection, and data safety monitoring.

Conclusions:

Clinical ethics breaches include lack of full disclosure of risks, coercive influences, as well as misinformation about the study goals and safety. Breaches of professional ethics include conflicts of interest with respect to financial incentives, patient accrual, and inadequate standards of awareness and proficiency among participating investigators. It appears evident that the failure to regulate nutriceuticals and products of compounding pharmacy has provided the opportunity for these ethical violations.

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