Patientsí» attitudes to unproven therapies in treating Covid-19 merit evaluation
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, many randomized controlled trials have been launched to test the efficacy of promising treatments. These trials will offer great promise for future treatment. However, a public health emergency calls for a balance between gathering sound evidence and granting therapeutic access to promising trial drugs as widely as possible. In an electronic survey we found that 3.9% of the participants preferred to receive an unproven trial drug directly in the hypothetical scenario of mild Covid-19 infection. This percentage increased drastically to 31.1% and 54.2% in the hypothetical scenario of severe and extremely severe infection, respectively. Our survey indicates a likelihood of substantial receptivity of trial drug among actual patients in severe conditions. From the perspective of deontological ethics, a trial can only be approved when potential benefits of the investigational treatment are presumed to outweigh risks, so compassionate or off-label use of investigational therapies merits evaluation.