Professor Aisling McMahon & Dr Opeyemi Kolawole publish article in Medical Law Review on bioethical issues related to IPRs over downstream health-technologies developed in the biobank context

by | May 7, 2024 | News

Professor Aisling McMahon and Dr Opeyemi Kolawole have published an article entitled “Biobank donation in search of public benefits and the potential impact of intellectual property rights over access to health-technologies developed: A focus on the bioethical implications” in the Medical Law Review. The Medical Law Review is a leading international peer reviewed journal in the health law field.

This article is available open access here and is based on research conducted as part of the European Research Council funded PatentsInHumans project.

This article focuses on the potential bioethical issues posed by how downstream intellectual property rights can arise over health-technologies whose development has been contributed to by use of biomaterials derived from biobanks. It argues that a tension can arise in the biobank context as donors of biomaterials may often donate to the biobank based on a desire to contribute to the development of new health-technologies or knowledge which is in the public interest. Yet where new technologies are developed and contributed to by knowledge or samples derived from biobanks, such technologies are often subject to intellectual property rights which can be used in a manner that impacts public access to such technologies. Despite this, there are no binding obligations in Europe to mandate the disclosure to potential donors of how intellectual property rights could arise and impact access to downstream technologies developed in this context. There are also no binding obligations which ensure the public accessibility of technologies developed. This article argues that the current context can give rise to a range of bioethical issues including impacting donors’ autonomy and dignity interests. The article puts forward avenues that seek to address such issues.

You can find out more about the PatentsInHumans project by watching this short video or by visiting the project website. 

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