The 2014 Varsity Medical Ethics Debate: should we allow genetic information to be patented?
Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, May 2015
Kiloran H.M. Metcalfe, Calum A. Worsley, Casey B. Swerner, Devan Sinha, Ravi Solanki, Krithi Ravi, Raj S. Dattani
The 2014 Varsity Medical Ethics debate convened upon the motion: "This house believes that genetic information should not be commoditised". This annual debate between students from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, now in its sixth year, provided the starting point for arguments on the subject. The present article brings together and extends many of the arguments put forward during the debate. We explore the circumstances under which genetic material should be considered patentable, the possible effects of this on the research and development of novel therapeutics, and the need for clear guidelines within this rapidly developing field.The Varsity Medical Debate was first held in 2008 with the aim of allowing students to engage in discussion about ethics and policy within healthcare. Two Oxford medical students, Mahiben Maruthappu and Sanjay Budheo founded the event. The event is held annually and it is hoped that this will allow future leaders to voice a perspective on the arguments behind topics that will feature heavily in future healthcare and science policy. This year the Oxford University Medical Society at the Oxford Union hosted the debate.
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