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Medical News & Perspectives
June 18, 2008

Companies’ Use of Web to Recruit Patients for Studies Brings Opportunities, Risks

JAMA. 2008;299(23):2733-2734. doi:10.1001/jama.299.23.2733

Pharmaceutical companies are outsourcing the recruitment of patients for some clinical trials to companies that use Web sites for the purpose of collecting personal and medical data on prospective participants and screening them for suitability. But some critics of the practice are concerned that the tactics being used may put patient privacy or the integrity of clinical research at risk.

Traditionally, patients have been recruited for clinical trials through their physicians or via advertisements that direct them to contact the clinicians conducting the trial. More recently, Web sites that simply list or advertise clinical trials have become a common recruitment tool for both privately and publicly funded clinical trials.