Biotechnology and commodification within health care

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 24 (3):267 – 287 (1999)
The biotechnology industry's intellectual property claims contribute to a subtle but not insignificant encroachment of commodification within health care. Drawing on the conceptual framework of Margaret Jane Radin, I argue that patent claims on human biological materials may commodify that with which our personhood and individuality is intertwined but that such commodification is broad and incomplete. Patents on nonhuman biological organisms contribute to a more materialistic understanding of them but do not significantly change our relationship to them. The systemic effects of biotechnology's commodification within health care are various and may compromise the goal of good health. The morally problematic aspects of patent claims entail certain obligations to inhibit commodification from becoming more egregious, but on balance, those aspects are currently insufficient to justify denying the benefits the patent system promotes.
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    David B. Resnik (2001). DNA Patents and Human Dignity. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 29 (2):152-165.
    Barbro Björkman (2007). Different Types—Different Rights. Science and Engineering Ethics 13 (2):221-233.
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