Article - Compensation for Body Parts Donors

Stealing What’s Free:  Exploring Compensation to Body Parts Sources for Their Contribution to Profitable Biomedical Research   as pulbished in Franklin Pierce law Review, Vol. 5 No. 1 pgs. 91-112   by JO-ANNE YAU - Florida Intellectual Property Attorney

The great tragedy of Science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis 
by an ugly fact.
—T.H. Huxley, Biogenesis and Abiogenesis


Donating body parts in the name of science appears to be a beautiful solution to the problem of scarce body parts for research advancements.  But a closer investigation reveals an ugly fact: the philanthropic donors—referred to as “Sources” in this article—are subjected to physical and financial exploitation.   

Sources play a crucial and indispensable role in biotechnology.  Without human body parts, most medical discoveries would not have been possible.  Handsome profits can be derived from successful discoveries. But currently in the United States, when a Source provides body parts for research purposes, the researcher, research foundation, and outside investors are only a few of the parties who may claim a financial stake in the profits of this research.  The Source is the only party excluded from being financially compensated for his contribution.  Despite being a key player in ground-breaking medical discoveries, legal and political rhetoric block Sources from rightful compensation.  

In this article, “Source compensation” will refer to a proportionate share of the research profits set aside for the Source as a result of his contribution.  Today, Source compensation is prohibited.  Laws are slow in reacting to technological change and resulting societal needs.  The progress of Source compensation is hampered by stubborn, archaic attitudes about the value of the human body.  However, this article will address the subtle movements in the law toward Source compensation and the constitutional soundness of this practice.  Furthermore, public policy discussions, ethical implications, and comparisons with other socially embraced practices will highlight variations on Source compensation that are already prevalent in society, and demonstrate that the concept is not so foreign after all.

Click here to Download the complete article As published in Franklin Pierce Law Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, pgs. 91-11

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