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Justice in Genetics

Justice in Genetics

Intellectual Property and Human Rights from a Cosmopolitan Liberal Perspective

Louise Bernier

Providing new insight into the ideas surrounding one of the longest running and hotly debated governmental issues – the global access to healthcare challenge – Louise Bernier develops an original theoretical framework that builds upon cosmopolitan liberal theory. This groundbreaking analysis offers a useful justification for engaging in a global and more equitable redistribution of health-related resources.

Chapter 1: Global Application of Distributive Justice: A Cosmopolitan Approach

Louise Bernier

Subjects: law - academic, health law, human rights, intellectual property law, politics and public policy, human rights


When choices are to be made regarding the ends and means of political action, or the structures and rules of institutions and practices, it is natural to ask by what principles such choices should be guided.1 INTRODUCTION As discussed in the introduction, there is evidence that genetic research has and will continue to evolve to have significant positive effects on the health and lives of the people it reaches.2 However, for the moment, we can expect that most genetic technologies will likely reach and benefit a limited number of people worldwide, the majority in developed countries. In fact, expensive innovations will probably continue to develop to address the needs of the affluent where there is a market for them and, in any case, will likely be accessible only to those people who have insurance coverage (public or private) or who can afford to purchase such technology with private funds.3 Genetic discoveries could thus contribute to widen the health gap between rich and poor, both within and between countries, adding to the substantial inequalities that already characterise some health care systems and the global health agenda.4 1 C.R. Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999) at p. 5. 2 See references cited in the Introduction, and see also Collins et al., ‘A vision for the future of genomics research’ (2003) 422 Nature 835; J. Bell, ‘The Double Helix in Clinical Practice’ (2003) 421 Nature 414; Program in Applied Ethics and Biotechnology and Canadian Program on Genomics and...

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