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May 17, 1976

Obsolescence Before Use— A Modern Parable

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1976;235(20):2189-2190. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260460013005

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To the Editor.—  Some critics of excessive participation of the "poor" in medical experiments have suggested prohibition of their use in such studies ("poor" defined as prisoners, students, and patients attending the clinics of teaching hospitals—in short, populations "deprived not only for strictly economic reasons, but also because of social, cultural, administrative, and political factors"). In their place, others not disadvantaged or dependent would participate. To ensure equality of opportunity, computer techniques would be used to select potential volunteers for studies. Other prohibited groups would be those thought by some to be unable to offer true informed consent, eg, children, the aged, soldiers. As I dozed over the discussion of these issues, an insight into the future unfolded before me:Employment Manager: Good Morning, what can I do for you?Applicant: I'd like to apply for the job you advertised in the paper.Employment Manager: Very well, may I have