Who was Sir Alexander Fleming?
He discovered Penicillin
What is Thalidomide?
A drug that was inadequately tested and resulted in terrible abnormalities in more than 10,000 children because their mothers took the drug while pregnent.
What is Phocomelia?
A deformity whereby the individual has very short or absent limbs.
In a recent case
GlaxoSmithKline was warned by the UK drugs regulator - Why?
They should have been quicker to raise the alarm on the risk of suicidal behaviour associated with the antidepressant Seroxat in those under 18
What are the two main ethical duties regarding drug research in the UK?
First of all there is the duty of doctors, scientists and researchers to act ethically in the production of new drugs, both in their preparation and also in their testing and the open and honest publication of the results.
Second, the state has an ethical obligation to have a regulated environment requiring safeguards to protect the public from possible side-effects from new drugs while at the same time allowing for the development of new medicines which have life-saving or life-enhancing consequences.
What is the first thing a Human tester has to give to make the process of drug testing ethical?
Their full and informed consent.
What example is often used, relating to the military, to illustrate that unethical testing has taken place in the past?
Soldiers were exposed to levels of radiation during nuclear testing in the South Paciﬁc Ocean which later led to serious medical conditions including cancer.
Why do medical breakthroughs
often happen during times of war?
On such occasions life-saving new ideas have to be tried out and there is no time for testing and slow gradual development - the injured would die before proper tests were made.
What experimental practices were carried out during World War II at the Queen Victoria Hospital
near East Grinstead which would have broken modern ethical rules?
Badly burnt pilots were subject to experimental
practices which led to breakthroughs in the treatment of burns and plastic surgery.
For these pilots and their doctors the risks were unknown, but the consequences of not trying to develop new treatments were very severe indeed so it was a risk worth taking.
In the case of human experimentation, why is the idea of informed consent crucial.
Being forced to undergo risky unproven techniques or
procedures seems to go against the idea of individual liberty and freedom.
It goes against the idea that human beings have a dignity or worth which cannot be removed or ignored.
Where does the idea that human beings have a dignity or worth which cannot be removed or ignored come from?
This idea of the dignity of the human person is found in religious traditions where human beings are said to be
It is also found in philosophical traditions such as Kantian ethics which gives human beings value above all other creatures — a value which has no price.
What doctrine may put aside the need for human consent and the need to maintain human dignity in medical testing?
In utilitarian terms it may be argued that it is right and even morally correct to disregard the rights of the few to benefit the needs of the many.
Why is it seen as important that medical procedures and treatments need to be practised ﬁrst, and established as safe by testing on human beings.
If there are doubts about the integrity or safety of the medical system then there is a real danger to public health.
If members of the public cannot trust the treatments being suggested then they may do themselves more harm by not being treated or pursuing an unsafe treatment.
There is an argument that animals are not a completely suitable subject for testing due to differences between the
species. What has this argument led to?
The argument for using human embryos as a means of more accurate and reliable testing.
It is argued that embryo experimentation has the potential to ﬁnd cures for serious illnesses by using tissue or cells from embryos. give examples of these serious illnesses.
Other degenerative diseases
There are legal limits to embryo experimentation.
What practices are prohibited in the UK?
Keeping an embryo past the
appearance of the prirnitive streak at about 14 days,
Placing a human embryo in an animal
Replacing the nucleus of a cell of an embryo with
the nucleus of another person (human cloning)
Altering the genetic structure of any cell while it forms part of an embryo.
What is the 'primitive streak' that occurs at about 14 days?
The primitive streak is a thickening in the surface of the embryo that results in the ﬁrst stages of embryonic development
What two recent developments have brought embryo
research into the public arena again?
Frstly the development of stem cell research and secondly the development of human-animal cybrid embryos.
Why are embryonic stem cells are thought by scientists to
be particularly valuable?
Because of their regenerative
and generative capacity
Research in 2007 has indicated that it may be
possible to reverse age-related muscle degeneration
which has caused 14 million people in Europe to
become what? .
Scientists believe that within ﬁve years a treatment will have been developed to cure these people of their blindness
A Bill passed through Parliament in May 2008 supported the creation of human-animal cybrid embryos. What are these?
These are created by the insertion of a nucleus of a human cell inside a hollowed-out cow ovum to get a better understanding of the development of embryos at the molecular level
What is an embryonic stem cell?
A primitive kind of cell which goes on to develop into one of the many cells in the body.
What are the main ethical debates about embryo experimentation?
Ethical debates about embryo experimentation start by considering the nature of the embryo; whether it is a person, a potential person or something else, and whether, and to what degree, human rights (or any other sort of rights) are granted to it.
It is also argued that there is a genuine need to find treatments for people suffering from terrrible diseases and other conditions.
What are the main arguments in favour of embryo research on embryos up to 14 days old?
The argument in favour of embryo research up to 14 days is that before the primitive streak an embryo is not the same as a human person. It has value but not the same value or signiﬁcance as an older entity.
What are the main arguments in favour of embryo research on embryos beyond 14 days old?
At 14 days old the cells have ﬂattened out to a disc, but the embryo has none of the features we would expect of a human person, a moral being that might make us treat it differently.
The embryo at this point has no consciousness and no nervous system.
How does Peter Singer try to justify embryo experimentation?
He writes that it is possible to argue that up to 14 days after fertilisation an embryo (as opposed to a foetus) is not a human being because at that time it can split into two or more genetically identical embryos (eg. twins)
(Singer, 1993, pp156—7).
Before 14 days, we cannot be sure if we are looking at one or two individuals, and therefore there is no personal
Which organisation has come out in support of Peter Singer's view on embryo research by claiming that there is no brain, no self-awareness (or consciousness), no way of feeling pain or emotion, so an early stage embryo cannot suffer?
The British Humanist Association
What scientific arguments do Catholics use against the use of embryos up to 14 days?
They note that even by days 5-7 significant changes are taking place within the embryo and lack of knowledge about what is actually forming is no excuse to remove the rights of the developing human being.
Christian absolutists use scripture to justify that God’s image is reflected in each human from conception. What are these verses?
Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart
Galatians 1:15 - ...But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace...
Ephesians 1:4 - ...For he chose us in him before the creation of the world
Psalm 139:13 - For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
What example does Peter Singer use to show that human action is required to bring about the ‘potential life’ of an embryo and therefore full human rights do not apply?
He uses the example of sperm and eggs thrown into a sink and causing a blockage – according to those who say that there is potential for human life to develop it would seem wrong to unblock the sink. He claims that just because there is potential life does not mean there is actual life.