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Title: Ownership and commercialisation of human biological material : impact on scientific and medical research
Author: Ayihongbe, Semande
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 1236
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Health related biotechnological research is undoubtedly a significant social utility. Such research leads to development of drugs, diagnostics, and better understanding of the causes of diseases and illnesses that plague humanity. It also helps to drive economic growth. Patenting and the commercialisation of the products of biotechnological research enterprise provide the necessary economic incentive to encourage investment, drive innovation and productivity in such enterprise. While significant profits are made from this enterprise, these profits are presently shared between researchers (and their employers) who develop the products and private companies that market the products in a commercial arena. Although human biological material is an essential raw material for most health related biotechnological research, the individuals who contribute this essential raw material (‘sources’) are largely excluded from partaking in the profits made from research enterprise. While it is important to safeguard the profit interest of developers and marketers of products generated from biotechnological research enterprise in order to maintain the incentive to embark upon such ventures, the current two-dimensional approach to profit sharing is arguably untenable. It is inconsistent with notions of justice which form part of the fabric of a civilised society. Furthermore, sources are becoming aware of the potential commercial value of biological material as the matter continues to be debated in the public arena and they may refuse to participate in research if they perceive they are treated unjustly. This potential state of affairs could hinder research progress since its survival depends to a significant extent on the continued supply and availability of human biological material. One supposition advanced here is that sources who contribute commercially valuable biological material towards research enterprise should be empowered by law to claim compensation for their contribution, or alternatively, to direct such compensation into further research, if they so wish. Furthermore, a source’s interest in determining how and by whom his or her biological material is used should also receive more robust protection under the law than at present. Such an approach arguably enhances the ethics of research enterprise by helping to promote justice, dignity and autonomy for sources. It is proposed that a hybrid liability/property policy framework should be introduced for this purpose, a framework which should seek to safeguard the interests of sources of biological material, without discouraging innovation or eroding the economic incentive to conduct and invest in research. An attempt is made in this discourse to sketch the contours of one such model.
Supervisor: Nwabueze, Remigius Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K Law (General)