Medication of Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and Convalescent Plasma during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany—An Ethical Analysis

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (11):5685 (2021)
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This paper aims to analyze the ethical challenges in experimental drug use during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, using Germany as a case study. In Germany uniform ethical guidelines were available early on nationwide, which was considered as desirable by other states to reduce uncertainties and convey a message of unity. The purpose of this ethical analysis is to assist the preparation of future guidelines on the use of medicines during public health emergencies. The use of hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir and COVID-19 convalescent plasma in clinical settings was analyzed from the perspective of the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, justice and autonomy. We observed that drug safety and drug distribution during the pandemic affects all four ethical principles. We therefore recommend to establish ethical guidelines (i) to discuss experimental treatment options with patients from all population groups who are in urgent need, (ii) to facilitate the recording of patient reactions to drugs in off-label use, (iii) to expand inclusion criteria for clinical studies to avoid missing potentially negative effects on excluded groups, and (iv) to maintain sufficient access to repurposed drugs for patients with prior conditions.

Author's Profile

Cristian Timmermann
Universität Augsburg


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