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July 2006

Using a Drug Before the Risks and Benefits Are Known From a Phase 3 Clinical Trial: Thoughts on Compassion

Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124(7):1029-1031. doi:10.1001/archopht.124.7.1029

Compassion: the feeling or emotion, when a person is moved by the suffering or distress of another, and by the desire to relieve it; pity that inclines one to spare or to succour.1

Compassion is an essential component of the moral compass that informs our behavior as physicians. It is at the basis of the principle that the needs of the patient are paramount. However, there are instances in which ethical, legal, or logistical considerations may constrain physicians from acting with what they interpret as compassion. This article explores one such dilemma that sooner or later is apt to confront the clinician.