My Property, My Money! Essay

2448 Words 10 Pages
Biotech companies and health insurance providers are motivated not for the greater good, not to serve humanity, but to make a profit. Money is the fuel that drives a capitalist society. If doctors, researchers, and biotech companies reap the benefits of human tissues, certainly donor should, as well. When a person donates bone marrow or an organ, they do it overwhelmingly to serve their fellow man (Matas). Unfortunately, big business in the healthcare industry does not lead by man’s example. The lack of consideration of the Lacks’ family following Henrietta’s death is a true testament to our dysfunctional healthcare system; furthermore the United States carries a heavy history of discriminating against minorities (Richardson). Today, the …show more content…
That same year, congress also amended patent regulations to allow the commercialization of products developed through government-sponsored research (Skloot 210). Patents slow medical advancements because it makes tissue more about ‘ownership’ than progress. ‘Tissue profiteering’ has replaced the greater good. A 2005 study published in Science estimated that some twenty percent of all human genes had already been patented and of those, sixty-three percent were by private firms (Darnovsky, Reynolds). Despite being encouraged by the biotechnology industry, researchers are at risk of violating patent laws because U.S. patent applications remain confidential for the first eighteen months after filing (Darnovsky, Reynolds). One notion is to give property rights to people so they ‘own’ their tissues, and therefore uninvited removal of such tissue by a third party would be considered trespassing or theft (Charo). However, universities claim that property rights in removed tissues would complicate the research process by reducing their ability to use stored tissues effectively (Charo). The African-American community had such little trust for John Hopkins and other hospitals that there was a very good chance Henrietta would have denied the hospital from obtaining her cells for research purposes had they actually asked her (Singer-Vine). When Henrietta arrived at John Hopkins, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and she received treatment while in the
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