Human 'guinea pigs' or privileged pioneers? Compassionate use of experimental treatments


Tuesday 12 March 2019


Venue Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
Organised by

Open Section


CPD - Applied for

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about this event

Compassion use has been rarely out of the news in the last year. Whilst recent high profile cases have involved children, compassionate use is by no means restricted to paediatrics, and stakeholders have much to learn from each other. 

The idea that a treatment that has not yet completed clinical trials can be made available in specified circumstances for patients in dire need is an appealing but problematic one. When should this ‘work-around’ be applied and when should it not?’ is a question that troubles patients and their families, clinicians, ethics committee members, regulators and the developers of those treatments.


Who should authorise compassionate use – clinical ethics or research ethics committees, patients or the judiciary?

This meeting will offer much
-needed education on (and discussion of) the concept of ‘compassionate use,’ at the boundary between medical research and clinical practice. 
We anticipate that the day will be of educational interest to clinicians, members of legal and regulatory professions, patient advocates, ethicistsand members of the press. 

Speakers will address the issue from a number of relevant perspectives including: clinical, legal and regulatory, ethical, the media and commerce. The meeting is particularly relevant training for anyone who may potentially be involved in discussing, negotiating or reporting a ‘compassionate-use’ case.  



  • The issue of ‘compassionate use’ in healthcare including: concept, law, regulation, healthcare application, ethics, politics and public engagement.  

  • Sharing of expert knowledge from those who have situated experience of compassionate use in a professional context.  

  • The sources of ethical, regulatory and legal support for healthcare professionals, patients and other stakeholders involved in instances that can be defines as compassionate use in healthcare. 



RSM members: £36 - £94

Non-members: £60 - £160


*Following registration you will be contacted appropriately by email with; your booking confirmation, feedback survey and attendance certificate. For full details of the RSM privacy policy, click here. 


9.30 am

Registration, tea and coffee

9.55 am


Dr Paquita De Zulueta, President, Open Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Morning: Theory

Dr Andrew Papanikitas

10.05 am

An introduction to ‘Compassionate use’ and its close relatives in healthcare settings

Dr Nicola Stingelin

10.30 am

Encountering ‘Compassionate Use’ in Healthcare

Dr Ketan Shah, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Company Name Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

11.00 am

Tea and coffee break

11.30 am

Compassionate Use and the law in the UK

James Lawford Davies, Partner, Hempsons, London

12.00 pm

What are the ethical debates around ‘Compassionate use’ in healthcare?

Professor Dominic Wilkinson, Director and Professor of Medical Ethics, University of Oxford, Consultant in newborn intensive care, John Radcliffe Hospital

12.30 pm

Panel discussion

Dr Andrew Papanikitas, Nicola Stingelin, James Lawford Davies, Ketan Shah, Dominic Wilkinson

1.00 pm


Afternoon: Practice

Dr Nicola Stingelin, Independent Research Ethics Advisor

2.00 pm

The law in action - how do compassionate use cases unfold?

Vikram Sachdeva, QC

2.30 pm

Compassionate use – which ethics committee and why?

Dr Anne-Marie Slowther, Reader in Clinical Ethics, Warwick Medical School and Clinical Ethicisit, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

3.00 pm

Tea and coffee break

3.30 pm

Compassionate use - implications for industry

Dr Rav Seeruthen, Medical Director, Roche UK

4.00 pm

Compassionate use – politics, public opinion and the media

Mr Tom Sheldon, Science Media Centre

4.30 pm

Panel discussion

Chair Dr Nicola Stingelin, Mr Vikram Sachdeva, Professor Anne Slowther, Dr Rav Seeruthun, Mr Tom Sheldon

5.00 pm

Close of meeting and online evaluations

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  • Online registration closes on Wednesday 6 March 2019


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