Stealing What's Free: Exploring Compensation to Body Parts Sources for Their Contribution to Profitable Biomedical Research


Jo-Anne Yau


It is undisputed in the biotechnology industry that human body parts play a vital role in research. The body parts donors, referred to as "Sources" in this article, are subjected to physical and financial exploitation. Forbidding the explosion of profits from trickling down to the Source presents an irrational inequity. Despite established law, it is evident from case analysis, prevailing social practices, and constitutional interpretation that Source compensation is a plausible solution.

This article proposes a model of compensation for Sources, whereby Sources are compensated based on a proportionate share of the research profits set aside for the Source as a result of his contribution. This article will address the subtle movements in the law toward Source compensation and the Constitutional soundness of this practice.

Furthermore, public policy discussions, ethical implications, and comparisons with other socially embraced practices will highlight variations on Source compensation are already prevalent in society, and demonstrate that the concept is not so foreign after all.


Constitutional Law | Health Law and Policy | Intellectual Property Law | Internet Law | Law | Law and Society | Legislation | Medical Jurisprudence | Science and Technology Law

Date of this Version

May 2006