Henrietta Lacks Should Not Be Compensated For The Use Of Her Cells In Medical Research

Category: Social Issues

Autor: people 28 April 2011

Words: 1519 | Pages: 7




Henrietta Lacks Should Not Be Compensated For The Use Of Her Cells In Medical Research.

The discovery of HeLa cells has been touted as one of the biggest achievements in medical history as it has helped discover the medicines for Polio, Parkinson’s disease, and it has been used extensively for the research on cancer treatments (Ramsey, 2010). One would expect that the person who contributed the cells has been rightfully compensated and deservedly acknowledged. However, such was not the case for Henrietta Lacks. Even though the HeLa cell lines were initially physically hers, she was not compensated or recognized for her contributions (Skloot, 2010). In fact her cells were taken uninformed to her and it is argued that she should have been reimbursed for the use of her cells in medical research. Nevertheless, Henrietta Lacks should not be financially compensated because the medical discoveries achieved through the utilization of her cells are researchers’ intellectual property, there was no contract requiring her to be compensated, and the cells were taken for the research on cancer which was the disease that she had.

The medical breakthroughs from the utilization of Henrietta’s cells are primarily from the efforts of the researchers themselves. This means, the financial gains acquired from the utilization of her cells are primarily because of the results from researches conducted on them, rather than the physical entity of her cells itself. In cases involving patents for medical breakthroughs, the rights to ownership of the patents fall primarily on researchers because the discoveries are done through the exercise of the researchers’ intellect (Connor, 2005). In other words, because the researchers themselves make a comprehensive educated effort in the scientific process of finding a conclusion, the credits should fall primarily on the researchers, regardless of the resources they use, because the discoveries are considered their intellectual property. For example, George Gey, the researcher who made the discovery, was among one of the many researchers aiming to achieve the first successful tissue culture and he failed many times before discovering HeLa cells (Masters, 2002). Obviously, Gey was the one who made more effort compared to Lacks who merely provided her cells for medical research. If Gey were to give up after one of his failures or if he were too lazy to take advantage of his intelligence to conduct res...