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Issues in ethics

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This paper reviews the impact of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 on the scientific community over the years. The policy encourages the utilization of inventions produced under federal funding. Universities were allowed to patent their scientific discoveries and set up companies to market them so that two worthy goals would be met; it would provide incentives for research as well as bringing the products based on that research to market. Scientific discovery and the human use of those discoveries would be accelerated, benefiting both the scientific community and citizens whose health would be improved by new discoveries. However, the policy has resulted to corrupted biomedical research due to the lure of profits. The change in institutional arrangements initiated by the Bayh-Dole Act has undermined biomedical science and corrupted the values - principally objectivity - that are essential to it. With this, the loss of the credibility of scientific experts is specially worrying. The new liaison between universities and commercial interests has altered the ethical norms of biomedical research. Conflicts of interest among scientists has been linked to research bias as well as the loss of a socially valuable ethical norm - disinterestedness - among academic researchers. Sience in the private interest has replaced the old ideal of science in the public interest.

Published in:

Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:23 ,  Issue: 4 )