Using 'unproven' clinical interventions during public health emergencies: Ethical considerations

Epidemics and pandemics of novel pathogens are often characterized by a lack of known therapeutic or preventive interventions. It is therefore imperative to rapidly conduct research to study and develop countermeasures in these contexts. Yet, with research underway and no ‘proven’ therapeutic or preventive interventions, a question exists as to whether individuals, groups, or populations should be offered ‘unproven’ preventive and/or therapeutic interventions outside of clinical trials, including “off-label” interventions. This seminar will explore the use of ‘unproven’ clinical interventions during public health emergencies, coinciding with the recent publication of the World Health Organization’s guidance document, “Emergency use of unproven clinical interventions outside clinical trials: ethical considerations”.

Prof. Ross Upshur, Head, Division of Clinical Public Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada


  • Dr Alison Bateman-House, Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, New York, USA
  • Dr Ignacio Mastroleo, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dr Marta Lado Castro-Rial, Case Management Expert, WRE, World Health Organization, Switzerland