Skip to main content
Log in

Nonconsensual Clinical Trials: A Foreseeable Risk of Offshoring Under Global Corporatism

  • Original Research
  • Published:
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This paper explores the connection of offshoring and outsourcing to nonconsensual global pharmaceutical trials in low-income countries. After discussing reasons why the topic of nonconsensual offshored clinical trials may be overlooked in bioethics literature, I suggest that when pharmaceutical corporations offshore clinical trials today, nonconsensual experiments are often foreseeable and not simply the result of aberrant ethical conduct by a few individuals. Offshoring of clinical trials is structured so that experiments can be presented as health care in a unique form of outsourcing from the host country to pharmaceutical corporations. Bioethicists’ assessments of the risks and potential benefits of offshore corporate pharmaceutical trials should therefore systematically include not only the hoped for benefits and the risks of the experimental drug but also the risk that subjects will not have consented, as well as the broader international consequences of nonconsensual experimentation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Offshoring is the relocation of a business practice from one country to another; outsourcing is contracting work out to a third party.


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bethany Spielman.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Spielman, B. Nonconsensual Clinical Trials: A Foreseeable Risk of Offshoring Under Global Corporatism. Bioethical Inquiry 12, 101–106 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: