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.
A content analysis of relevant documents was conducted, followed by telephone interviews with investigators and former participants to verify facts.
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.
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.
This article presents an analysis of the Wiley Protocol by a bioethicist. The article explores the ethical issues surrounding this unregulated protocol, which is advertised to women through consumer books, the popular press, and the Internet.
From the Program for Bioethics and Patients' Rights, Department of Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY.
Received December 13, 2007; revised and accepted April 2, 2008.
Financial disclosure: None reported.
Address correspondence to: M. Sara Rosenthal, PhD, Program for Bioethics and Patients' Rights, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 131 COMOB, Lexington, KY 40536-0086. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org