Background The exportation of unethical practices to low- and middle-income countries (“Ethics Dumping”) has been conceived as a prevalent practice which needs to be examined more closely. Such a practice might point towards the exploitation of vulnerable population groups. We conducted a survey among Mexican research ethics committee members to explore the issue of ethics dumping in Mexico by understanding how its existence and contributing factors and norms are perceived by these ethics committee members. Method We designed an exploratory survey based on a five-point Likert scale, following an established, validated and published methodology. The questionnaire included both open close-ended questions. The aspects covered in the questionnaire were introductory questions on the existence of ethical issues; general perception on ethics dumping in Mexico; lack of voluntariness, undue inducement, and therapeutic misconception as exploitation risks; existence of exploitative practices; norms facilitating ethics dumping; acceptable levels of benefit to Mexico; boundaries of ethics dumping. The survey was administered to a sample of research ethics committee members from public and private Mexican hospitals in 2016. Results Most of the ethics committee members believed clinical trials are generally ethically sound, though almost a majority think that ethics dumping is a common occurrence and that it is a serious issue. Most agree that ethics dumping needs to be addressed. They also identified other issues such as ethical issues related to patient participation and ethics committees. Further, most committee members agree that undue inducement and therapeutic misconception affect voluntariness, and that both individuals and communities receive appropriate benefits. Conclusion From the perspective of Mexican research ethics committee members, ethics dumping commonly exists in Mexican clinical trials, as well as several related issues such as ethical issues on patient participation and ethics committees, as well as voluntariness issues. Further, most members believed these issues need to be addressed. However, most were also of the opinion that clinical trials are generally ethically compliant. This points to the need for further studies on the reasons for these perspectives.
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