Recommendation 8 The National Institute on Drug Abuse should support studies of the potential effect of immunotherapy medications on illicit drug markets and market-related behaviors.
Enthusiasm for the new medications should not obscure the fact that fully informed and voluntary consent is necessary under any and all circumstances. These medications can produce long-lasting biological markers (raising issues of confidentiality and potential for discrimination) and might interfere with drug-testing methods. The free and informed nature of consent is of special concern if the medications are used in settings and circumstances that are inherently coercive. These therapies may offer great benefit, even when used in such settings. However, any such benefit needs to be balanced against the rights to privacy and liberty that have long been recognized in the provision of medical care. Particular complications may arise in obtaining consent from persons in the criminal justice system, from pregnant women, from women who are already parents and involved with the child welfare system, and from adolescents and children whose parents or guardians seek to administer these medications for “protective” use.
Recommendation 9 The National Institute on Drug Abuse should support studies to determine the standards to be applied when immunotherapy medications are considered for use in the criminal justice and child welfare systems including due process protections when there is a government-imposed treatment requirement.
Recommendation 10 The National Institute on Drug Abuse should support studies to carefully articulate the behavioral, ethical, and social risks associated with treatment of pregnant women and their fetuses and protective therapy in minors and to develop clinical practice guidelines for such use or discouragement of such use.