Trade in human tissue products

- Med J Aust
Author/s: -Tonti-Filippini, N. -Zeps, N.
Journal: Med J Aust
Year: 2011
Volume: 194
Issue: 5
Pages: 263-5

Trade in human tissue in Australia is prohibited by state law, and in ethical guidelines by the National Health and Medical Research Council: National statement on ethical conduct in human research; Organ and tissue donation by living donors: guidelines for ethical practice for health professionals. However, trade in human tissue products is a common practice especially for: reconstructive orthopaedic or plastic surgery; novel human tissue products such as a replacement trachea created by using human mesenchymal stem cells; biomedical research using cell lines, DNA and protein provided through biobanks. Cost pressures on these have forced consideration of commercial models to sustain their operations. Both the existing and novel activities require a robust framework to enable commercial uses of human tissue products while maintaining community acceptability of such practices, but to date no such framework exists. In this article, we propose a model ethical framework for ethical governance which identifies specific ethical issues such as: privacy; unique value of a person’s tissue; commodification of the body; equity and benefit to the community; perverse incentives; and “attenuation” as a potentially useful concept to help deal with the broad range of subjective views relevant to whether it is acceptable to commercialise certain human tissue products.