Public Health Ethics and Intellectual Property Policy

By Pakes, Barry N. | Bulletin of the World Health Organization, May 2006 | Go to article overview

Public Health Ethics and Intellectual Property Policy


Pakes, Barry N., Bulletin of the World Health Organization


The articles in this issue of the Bulletin describe some of the challenges posed by notions of intellectual property in areas as diverse as genetic testing, genomic epidemiology, pharmaceuticals and vaccines. The constructive practical solutions suggested include royalty clearing houses, comprehensive research collaboration policies, and modified DNA patenting regimes. All of the articles address and respond to moral duties and potential ethical consequences of the policies they discuss, but conspicuously refrain from more explicitly describing the values and principles that underlie and motivate their reasoning. As in the article by Chokshi et al., (1) their ethical dilemmas are usually manifest as a tension between a vague moral imperative to ensure universal "access" to downstream health benefits while maintaining or developing incentives for further "innovation". While their proposals are laudable, and they do cite articles on the ethical dimensions of their work, the unique, potentially guiding voice of ethical discourse is almost silent.

Basic science research and public health practice once flanked clinical medicine at opposite extremes of the health intervention continuum. Now these emerging technologies, broadly applied, threaten to bring these two distant cousins together with the promise of enhancing our ability to detect and treat disease. While the field of clinical medical ethics is as robust as ever, and the field of public health ethics has undergone considerable development in the past decade, the ethical aspects of some applied basic sciences have been explored but have not yet spawned a genre of consistent and appropriate ethical frameworks. Clinical trials must pass rigorous research ethics boards before studies begin, and public health interventions are increasingly subjected to thorough analyses which may include explicit ethical dimensions. In the area of cutting-edge research into potentially patentable technologies, however, the approaches to current and anticipated ethical dilemmas have been inconsistent. In some cases, there are extensive debates in the literature and the media regarding the ethical and societal impact of technologies even when their practical implementation remains very distant on the horizon. At the other extreme, new technologies and methods which have significant immediate application are often addressed in policy documents using sterile technical language without explicit referral to their underlying ethical and moral rationale. Initiatives such as the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) code of ethics (2) and the WHO Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (3) provide a great deal of data and useful policy direction. However, they may not be using the most appropriate frameworks to address both the narrow and the broad ethical dilemmas which result from the knowledge generated in basic science research, and how that knowledge is to be used and shared.

As basic science consortia make the leap from "bench" to "population", skipping the "bedside", we must recognize that policies that govern this field are not only organizational and logistical necessities, but are determinants of present and future global health. Therefore, appropriately developing and implementing intellectual property policy is a public health intervention with profound ethical import. As such, it lends itself well to frameworks and concepts borrowed from the discipline that busies itself with describing and prescribing public health interventions--the field of public health ethics.

While some public health ethicists have highlighted and examined key issues raised by a particular public health concern, (4,5) others have developed ethical frameworks to guide public health practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Public Health Ethics and Intellectual Property Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.