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US hospitals to ask patients for right to sell their tissue

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7262.658/e (Published 16 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:658
  1. Deborah Josefson
  1. San Francisco

    Several academic hospitals in the United States are forming partnerships with biotechnology companies to provide them with human tissue for research, treatment, and drug development purposes, in a series of arrangements which raise wide legal and ethical issues.

    Harvard University's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina are among the latest academic hospitals to join such ventures.

    Both of these institutions have entered into agreements with Ardais, a genomics startup company, which will bank the tissue, collect data, and sell both the data and the tissue to interested parties.

    Patients undergoing surgery at these medical centres will be asked to sign consent forms enabling leftover pathology specimens to be sent to biotechnology companies. The hospitals hope that this will avoid some of the controversies that have occurred in the past, when specimens have been used without consent, the most famous case being that of Henrietta Lacks.

    Lacks was a poor, young black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951. When she was a patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the early …

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