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Bioethics, Politics and Business

image of Bioethics, Politics and Business

In the decision-making involving biosciences and biotechnology, both politicians and the general public have come to increasingly rely on different kinds of experts and specialised bodies. Interest groups such as industry, religious authorities and consumer organisations also try to influence political decision-making, and the role of the media has not always been - it is claimed - as neutral as the public perceives it to be. At the same time, according to the democratic ideal, ultimate power should rest with the parliamentarians and with the people. Who has the power in decision-making in biotechnology? Can there be legitimate expertise in bioethics? How can we improve the power balance? These are some of the questions this book seeks to answer. The book is divided into three parts. The first part presents articles dealing with the role of biopolitics and the expert bodies in relation to the democratic ideal. The second part looks at the special role of the media in relation to decision-making in bioethics and biopolitics. The third part of the book looks at the links between the biotechnology industry and bioethical decision-making.

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Commercial Interests Versus Common Goods

In USA, the share of biomedical research that is financed by the industry went up from one to two thirds in just 20 years, from 1980 to 2000 (1). Industry propaganda has made people believe that innovative new drugs are invented by the industry, but this is not correct (2). Basic research that leads to breakthroughs is usually publicly funded, and public funding of research was instrumental in the development of 15 of 21 drugs introduced between 1965 and 1992 that were considered to have had the highest impact on society (3). For example, the first drugs against cancer and AIDS were invented by researchers who were publicly funded (2).

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