Patenting human genes: when economic interests trump logic and ethics
Kluge, Eike-Henner W.
Health Care Analysis: An International Journal of Health Philosophy and Policy 2003 June; 11(2): 119-130
To date, over 5,000 applications have been filed with United States Patent Office for patents on human genes. More than 1,500 of these applications have been granted. Other jurisdictions are experiencing a similar rush to mine and protect genomic gold. This paper argues that although many jurisdictions allow the patenting of human genes, this is ethically indefensible and amounts to an unjustified appropriation of a general human heritage. Economic and legal arguments in favour of patenting are considered and rejected. Reference is made to the Wellcome Trust Consortium's initiative and the Merck Gene Index Project, which place patented genetic information into the public domain.
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