New Dilemmas in Medicine: Three Current Controversies in Genetics, Religion, and Big Pharma

  • post Type / Conferences
  • Date / 25 March 2008

IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics and Bioethics International cordially invite you to a one-day conference concerning New Dilemmas in Medicine: Three Current Controversies in Genetics, Religion, and Big Pharma.

When: Friday, 23 May 2008 9:30am-6:45pm

Where: 777 UN Plaza (corner of 44th Street and 1st Avenue), 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10017, USA

Following the conference there will be a Cocktail Reception featuring an Argentinean Tango performance by Laura Real from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM at a location still to be announced.

Registration Fees: General Public – $65; Students – $30 *Includes Cocktail Reception
One can attend the cocktail reception for only $30

Send a Check to: IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics, P.O. Box 41, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10162

Contact: Ana Lita (212) 687-3324

Panel descriptions:

To Have the Best Child Possible – The Coming Age of “Procreative Beneficence?”

Genetic science has the potential to provide prospective parents with unprecedented control over their unborn child’s characteristics and attributes. In vitro fertilization and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis allow couples to sort out “good” from “bad” embryos prior to the start of pregnancy. Although these technologies are almost exclusively employed to detect genetic and/or chromosomal abnormalities among embryos, their use for selection of other medical and non-medical traits is conceivable. Tomorrow’s couples may have the opportunity to select embryos that will not only be the least susceptible to disease but which also have particular hair colors, skin tones, temperaments, or other personal attributes. Advocates of these eugenic initiatives have argued that future couples will have a moral obligation to pursue these technologies whenever possible to achieve the greatest benefit for their children, a principle known as “procreative beneficence.” Still, secular and non-secular critics alike argue that use of such technologies is immoral and may be potentially devastating to children and the structure of society.

Saying “No” to Patients – Medical Professionals as Conscientious Objectors

Central to the professional and ethical mandate of physicians, pharmacists, and other healthcare personnel is the provision of medical care consistent with the best interests of their patients. However, news of healthcare professionals refusing to provide certain types of care to their patients under the auspices of “conscientious objection” have raised questions about the role of professionals’ personal beliefs in fulfillment of their purported obligations and duties. Examples include doctors refusing to terminate pregnancies, pharmacists refusing to dispense emergency contraception, certain Catholic hospitals receiving public funds refusing to issue morning-after birth control to rape victims, and others.

Ethics and Pharmaceutical R&D – Who Should Be Responsible for Tomorrow’s Drugs?

The vast majority of prescription medications are developed and sold by private pharmaceutical companies. Under the current market-based system, however, some critics argue that pharma- ceutical companies have financial incentives to support R&D that will yield the biggest return but which may not be in the best interests of improving the health of patients worldwide. They claim, for example, that pharmaceutical companies are far more interested in producing Viagra than vaccines, and call for change in paradigm of drug design and provision. Others point to the high costs of R&D and the critical importance of blockbuster drugs to the future development of less profitable vaccines and antibiotics; without the former, they argue, there could be no breakthroughs.

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