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Needle Exchange Study To Be Reviewed

The National Institutes of Health said that it would review a needle exchange study it had agreed to sponsor in Alaska after a consumer health group charged that the research was unethical.

The three-year study, which was to begin recruiting patients in December, is intended to see if intravenous users of illicit drugs can cut their risk of being infected with disease viruses if they exchange their dirty, used needles and syringes for clean ones. The group objected that half of the drug users, those in the control group, would be denied access to the clean needles.

The Public Citizen’s Health Research Group asked the federal research agency to withdraw its support of the study because the trial was “highly unethical” in its design.