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Caroline Whitbeck Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Emerita Professor in Ethics Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University More Posts
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An Anti-Oxidant Compound to Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Disease
Secondary Title An Anti-Oxidant Compound to Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Disease


Author(s) Stephen G. Post

A scenario meant to stimulate discussion about the ethical issues that arise when study designs must include placebo controls and lengthy participation by Alzheimer's patients.

By Stephen Post, Ph.D.

Previous studies indicate that vitamin E, also an anti-Oxidant, enables AD patients to live an estimated six months longer than a placebo group. These patients also had slightly better control of bodily functions (including bowel and bladder). This study will examine a new anti-Oxidant that may slow the progression of AD. In this study, patients/subjects are required to remain on this compound until death. Their longevity will be compared with a control group receiving a placebo.

Family members must agree to maintain anti-Oxidant use throughout all stages of the disease progression. Subjects are not allowed to take any cholinesterase inhibitors or other anti-dementia drugs during the study, which uses a placebo control.

Why might it not be ethical to require subjects to stay on this compound throughout the entire course of the disease, including the advanced stage?

What would be the therapeutic goals of slowing progression of the disease?

What do you think about the non-use of symptomatic anti-dementia drugs in subjects and controls?

From Discussion Scenarios for Group Mentoring in Responsible Research

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Contributor(s) Caroline Whitbeck
Notes Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant. You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society’s code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.
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Year 2000
Publisher National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
Language English
  • Using Case Studies Bibliography


    This bibliography includes examples of different ways instructors have used case studies to introduce ethical topics to their students and resources for finding cases and incorporating them into the classroom.

    Author(s) Kelly Laas
    Year 2016
  • Added08/23/2006

    In this essay, Dr. Whitbeck outlines an 'agent-centered' approach to learning ethics. The central aim is to prepare students to act wisely and responsibly when faced with moral problems. She provides a number of examples and cases with descriptions of questions and directions for promoting student participation and stimulating thought and discussion.

    Year 1995
Cite this page: "An Anti-Oxidant Compound to Slow Progression of Alzheimer's Disease" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 9/10/2006 OEC Accessed: Thursday, October 27, 2016 <>