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To: Multiple recipients of list HUM-MOLGEN <HUM-MOLGEN@NIC.SURFNET.NL>
Subject: ETHI: IVF clinic dispute
From: Hans Goerl <GENETHICS@delphi.com>
Date: Mon, 5 Jun 1995 22:04:32 -0400

FROM: <cummins@possum.murdoch.edu.au>


According to an Associated Press Press Release on May 16, The University of
California at Irvine is filing a lawsuit against the UCI Center for
Reproductive Health.  At issue is the claim that the clinic donated an egg
from a woman to another couple without her permission and without ethical
approval from the institution.  This resulted in the birth of a child.  The
records do not, apparently,  state the source of the sperm used.  There are
also allegations that efforts were made to insert consent forms
retrospectively into the patient's records. The doctors are also accused of
taking medical equipment and destroying documents.

These are very serious accusations that profoundly affect the reputation
and future of   Dr Ricardo Asch, a respected pioneer in the field of human
reproductive technology (he developed the GIFT technique).  I do not wish
to prejudice the issue in any way, however I believe that this raises a
number of deep issues of medical ethics including informed consent,
donation of gametic material, the relationship between clinician and
patient, and the delicate balance that needs to be struck between
commercial interests and clinical practice.   I look forward to the ensuing
discussion.


Jim "Spermatology rules o~ o~ o~ o~" Cummins


EDITOR'S NOTE: The "delicate balance between commercial interests and
clinical practice" also comes into play in the ongoing controversy at the
University of Minnesota where a professor/chief of surgery/researcher is
under indictment for use and sale for profit of a non-FDA approved drug he
invented: revenues from the drug amounted to $80 million and were used to
finance a $13 million production facility.

Both genetic research and clinical genetics are fairly young fields but the
commercial pressures and enormous sums of money at stake make conflicts the
rule rather than the exception. Every major university and virtually every
important researcher is involved in a web of financial relationships that
can and do cause overstatement of results, failure to report negative
results, non-publication, non-cooperation with other researchers and various
compromises of patients' rights to objective information. As many
universities open up their own HMO's and many drug companies become involved
in direct patient care, these problems will get worse.

We would like to hear from anyone who has  suggestions as to how a) the
universities and researchers can protect themselves from  conflicts of
interest and b) a patient can be assured that when his highly touted medical
center doctor suggests a genetic screening/diagnostic test or "experimental"
genetic therapy, that the Dr. and University are not at least somewhat
motivated by profit.


   
 
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