During the last decade, the importance of biological research has increased dramatically. Because such type of investigations implies the necessity of using human subjects or animals, the ethical aspect of using humans and animals in biomedical research becomes very important. The vast majority of acts and regulations admit that subjects of experiments should give their permissions to be used before the process begins.
If humans can talk and demonstrate their attitude to investigations, animals are deprived of the possibility to choose and decide. People find it normal to use animals and neglect such aspects as a personal will, right of choice, and freedom. The main purpose of many biomedical investigations is not to save human lives and protect some ethical ideas but to commercialize their work within a short period and achieve special medical and financial benefits. Such priorities make some people focus on the idea of whether biomedical scientists can consider the process of commercialization and behave in an ethically appropriate manner (Caulfield & Ogbogu, 2008).
To disclose this idea, it is necessary to understand the essence of ethics in biomedical research and evaluate scientists’ obligations in the chosen field. Biomedical research is the activity that has to be based on special ethical norms which are closely connected to medical ethics and which define the quality of the services offered, the attitude of scientists toward the subjects of their experiments, and the conditions under which medical achievements will lead to successful commercialization and respect to all participants of research.
Biomedical research and the role of scientists in the system
People, who are involved in the sphere of medicine and learn about the peculiarities of biomedical research, admit that only a few efforts have been made to implement the standards to investigations that involve humans and animals. Despite a variety of informal protections for the subjects of biomedical research, it is hard to define formal and effective measurements offered. Sometimes even researchers admit that more formality is needed for their practice as they have to contradict their standards and norms.
However, such people do not have enough powers to make some legal improvements and make other scientists accept the same norms. This is why many scientists are under pressure to create special links and conditions under which the development of commercialization and new technologies may be supported. And at the political level, the chosen activities are justified as an attempt to improve the health care system and introduce more working treatment methods. Such type of reality is not pleasant for all members of biomedical research: they have to accept the rules dictated by the others and use prisoners who cannot protect their rights being imprisoned for several decades or forever (Elger & Spaulding, 2010) or animals who may suffer but cannot express their emotions (Shanks, 2003) as the main subjects for research.
Even if biomedical scientists find it unnecessary to choose such subjects for research, they are pressed and obliged to follow the directions to save governmental money and personal positions in the system. On the one hand, such control is a benefit as scientists should not be bothered with the ideas of where to find the material or what techniques are better to use. On the other hand, such scientists cannot regard their points of view but accept the idea of dependency upon the conditions created by those who have powers and appropriate financial status.
Ethics and biomedical research: dilemmas continue bothering
Luppicini & Adell (2009) define ethics as “the nature of morality, moral reasoning, and behavior, whereas morality is defined as the value dimension of human decision making and behavior” (p. 127). Biomedical research is the activity that has to be based on human norms of behavior as the main participants of such investigations are still humans. People make decisions on how to develop research; people define the techniques to be used in research, and people control the activities and evaluate the results achieved. This is why it is crucially important to consider the ethical aspect of biomedical research.
Another point is that nowadays animals are also the participants of biomedical research, and many people try to protect animal rights and freedoms regarding such activities like their obligations. Those people who press biomedical scientists do not consider the role of animals in human life and are ready to use animals as one more type of material. They do not find it necessary to take into account the public opinion: all they want to do is to achieve certain financial benefits and noticeable improvements of medical treatment.
Many spheres need improvements, and the vast majority of people find it possible to neglect some aspect of the procedure to achieve the successful results of the whole operation. Unfortunately, personal attitude to research and animal choice are not the only reasons why scientists are faced with the necessity to neglect ethical norms and behave ethically wrong. Though ethics plays an important role in biomedical research, some other factors may predetermine the development of research activities.
Industry Involvement in Biomedical Research
Industry involvement in biomedical research and several ethical controversies are usually caused by the harm made to the subjects of research. The importance of industry involvement is huge indeed: it defines how biomedical research is conducted, directed, and guided (Caulfield & Ogbogu, 2008). Unfortunately, the impact of industry on biomedical research is hard to overcome or neglect; even more, if scientists omit any kind of industry involvement, they may be pressed by other factors which are based on living conditions or time.
There is much useful technology that has to be implemented into research, and scientists are pressed by such necessities. They cannot find some other appropriate alternatives but focus on commercialization. The reflection is necessary for those spheres of life where industry involvement is inevitable commercialization issues which are usually associated with industry, demands, and biomedical research should be properly identified.
One of the commercializing factors turns out to be patterned. It is very important to patent discoveries that are related to living beings. As a result, several ethical and legal aspects should be considered. However, if patenting takes place by the rules and standards set, it is impossible to be sure that information about the subjects of research and the methods of research will never be disclosed. So, even such achievements as industrialization and new technologies for biomedical research cannot protect scientists and subjects of investigations from unpredictable changes of conditions and control that is based on the standards which should be followed.
Commercialization in Biomedical Research and Behaviour of Scientists
During the last two decades, commercialization is considered to be the main source of public concern (Caulfield & Ogbogu, 2008), this is why biomedical scientists cannot control the situation completely. Some researchers admit that certain improvements with the already existing empirical methods are necessary. Commercialization should not be the main factor in why scientists change the conditions of their work. What commercialization should be all about is the outcomes that are expected.
New knowledge, the possibility to find new treatments, and respect for each research subject should become the main principle of biomedical research. Unfortunately, technology spreading does not promote the creation of new more convenient conditions for work but vice versa, technology is the body that dictates new rules and standards because of which the vast majority of scientists are pressed in their activities. Such pressures are also caused by the inabilities to manage technology risks and raise money without breaking ethical norms.
So many years of improvements face scientists with another challenge: ethically approved manner of behavior is forgotten. People do not want to pay much attention to the ethical aspects of their activities. They are not interested in meeting the standards they set not long time ago. Such activities and decisions become the hugest challenge for many biomedical scientists as well as for the subjects who cannot protect their rights to freedom.
In general, the pressures placed on many biomedical scientists to commercialize their work create more challenges and make people behave in a manner that is not ethically appropriate. Commercialization is the process that aims at presenting new products or services most attractively. However, if products or services are created on the grounds of human or animal suffering, it is hard to accept the beauty of the chosen goods.
Nowadays, people are provided with a variety of alternatives with the help of which it is possible to make choices. Biomedical research is the field that undergoes certain improvements and changes very often, and biomedical scientists should understand that they are the only ones responsible for the progress, and they can search for some ways to overcome challenges and succeed in the chosen activities without hurting someone’s feelings and neglecting the already defined rights.
Caulfield, T. & Ogbogu, U. (2008). Biomedical research and the commercialization agenda: A review of main considerations for neuroscience. Accountability in Research: Policies & Quality Assurance, 15(4), 303-320. Web.
Elger, B. & Spaulding, A. (2010). Research on prisoners: A comparison between the IOM Committee Recommendations (2006) and European Regulations. Bioethics, 24(1), 1-13. Web.
Luppicini, R. & Adell, R. (2009). Handbook of research on technoethics. New York: Idea Group Inc.
Shanks, N. (2003). Animal rights in the light of animal cognition. Social Alternatives, 22(1), 12-18. Web.