Contrary to the self-aggrandizing story bioethicists like to tell about how IRBs arose out of concern for human subjects of research, Stark shows that, when you dig into this history, it is lawyers all the way down . . . She argues that IRB work was decentralized not to make it more ethical, but to protect the NIH from lawsuits. Stark convincingly concludes that IRBs today do not primarily enact ethical principles; they manage procedures.
[Dreger, Alice. “Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research.” Journal of American History 99, no. 4 (March 2013): 1328–1328. doi:10.1093/jahist/jas666.]