Contemporary biomedical research heavily relies on secondary use of personal health data that were obtained in a different clinical or research setting. Under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data controllers processing personal data must comply with the principle of purpose limitation, which restricts further processing of personal data beyond the purpose for which the data were initially collected. However, “further processing” is not explicitly defined, resulting in considerable interpretive ambiguities as to whether “secondary use” of data by researchers constitutes “further processing” under the GDPR. This ambiguity is problematic as it exposes researchers to potential non-compliance risks. In this article, we analyse the term “further processing” within the meaning of the GDPR, elucidate important aspects in which it differs from “secondary use”, and discuss the implications for data controllers’ GDPR compliance obligations. Subsequently, we contextualise this analysis within a broader discussion of regulating scientific research under the GDPR.
Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion rights advocates highlighted the importance of maintaining access to abortion through telemedicine. It was argued that telemedical and self-managed abortion was, in the pandemic context, a human rights imperative. This article argues that providing for telemedical and self-managed abortion remains a human rights imperative beyond the duration of the pandemic. Telemedical and self-managed abortion is safe and effective, supports the pregnant person’s preferences and reproductive autonomy, and minimises many of the physical and structural barriers faced by pregnant people in accessing abortion services. International and European human rights standards access to abortion require states to take positive measures to guarantee access to abortion, and this article argues that such measures include telemedical and self-managed abortion.
The field of human germline genome editing (HGGE) offers a promising reproductive potential to prevent inheritance of genetic diseases, yet also opens the door to undesirable eugenics. This stirred the debate about the acceptability of HGGE in light of human rights, particularly human dignity. The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) use human dignity as a guiding principle. Therefore, this article examined the clinical implementation of HGGE in light of relevant case-law regarding Article 2 and Article 8 ECHR. The analysis illustrates that the ECtHR broadens the scope of artificial reproductive rights under Article 8, however, Contracting States of the Council of Europe can limit these rights and the accessibility to reproductive techniques, such as HGGE. The ECtHR remains elusive about the legal status of unborn life, but protection under Article 2 with the introduction of HGGE should not be ruled out.
The key aim of this paper is to highlight the oft-under-represented narrative of how persons with disabilities (specifically, those with intellectual disabilities) may access the benefits that genome editing may offer. Firstly, this paper reflects on the critical need for a paradigm shift in how we view intellectual disabilities, and centering the rights of persons with disabilities to allow them to access the broad scope of their right to health under various international law instruments (including the complementary right to habilitation under Article 26 of the CRPD). Secondly, the paper evaluates the legal provisions in the CRPD and other international instruments relating to the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities, and their access to genome editing technologies. This analysis intends to demonstrate that human rights in disability discourse be complemented with emancipatory, participatory, and transformative research. Finally, the paper argues for a reinvigorated line of thinking that expands on the social model of disability: to align with inclusive, contemporary disability discourse that embodies greater responsibility and innovation in perpetuating better access to genome editing technologies for persons with intellectual disabilities.
This paper explores the application of EU Competition Law to the exploitation of human genome editing technology. Holders of key patents in the sector have applied different methods for disseminating the technology, such as different forms of licensing agreement and patent pools. It is found that that the competition rules are ill-suited to assess some of the licensing arrangements applied, which give rise to legal uncertainty. Accordingly, holders of patents on human genome editing technology may be discouraged to apply efficient methods for disseminating the technology. This may delay or obstruct some of the benefits the technology is supposed to deliver to the market, maker actors and consumers.
This article analyses the role that ‘ordre public’ and morality exceptions can play in the granting of patents on inventions in the field of human germline editing and the consequences of this policy option. In order to provide the context for such an analysis, the article will, first, provide an overview of the current patent landscape for relevant genome editing technologies, drawing attention to recent patent disputes and, second, examine ‘ordre public’ and morality exceptions under patent law in international, national and regional law, and the implications for innovation and access to novel treatments. The article argues that patent exceptions should not be used as a blunt policy instrument, nor interpreted in a way that is contrary to the patent system’s overall objectives. The ‘ordre public’ and morality based exceptions in the context of human germline editing should not be interpreted and applied in a way which results in outcomes counterproductive to the goal of balancing innovation with the protection of societal higher normative values. Instead, the application of the exception should be based on a sound understanding of both the underlying science as well as the broader ethical, social, and legal implications, thus enabling case-by-case decisions that provide the basis for patent claim amendments and nuanced purpose-bound protection. Further analysis and debate as to the role that such flexibilities can play in the context of genome editing technologies is therefore both necessary and desirable, and can be facilitated in the ways set out in this article.
There are ongoing concerns of social justice regarding inequalities in the distribution of access to potential genome editing technologies. Working within non-ideal theory, Colin Farrelly advances a justification for the use of patents to speed up the arrival of safe and effective interventions for all, including the socially disadvantaged. This paper argues that such success is less assured when one considers the actual functioning of patents and the practical implications of the patent system in the context of biotechnological innovations. I suggest that non-ideal theoretical approaches risk reverting back to a form of ideal theory if they simply refer to such real-world constraints — e.g. patents — but do not critically assess and fully examine how such constraints manifest themselves in practice. I highlight some considerations that would be important in order to develop and foster a more robust non-ideal approach to justice in biotechnological developments.
With the technical possibility of genome editing, we have reached a new phase of transforming human beings and even altering our genetic legacy. Genome editing constitutes new responsibilities in many fields. Science and society have never been as dependent on each other as they are today. We must also learn from the past episodes of eugenics and we need to investigate fraudulent practices and cases of failure in scientific research that have often occurred due to merciless scientific competition, profit-seeking commercial interests, or individual pride. Genome editing raises numerous legal questions, such as: Would it be possible to make a legal difference between specific versions of gene editing? Who decides on what is considered a disease or an anomaly, a condition, or a variation? Which diseases are worth being corrected or treated and which ones are not? What kinds of social implications will gene editing bring about when it becomes widely available? Some normative distinctions have already been made in the case of gene therapy: separating somatic from germline interventions. But this distinction has not yet been analyzed in the light of the most recent editing practices. Genome editing also realigns the structure of ethical debates. It makes us rethink the concept of discrimination and scrutinize its cases in the field of assisted reproductive procedures. It revolutionizes the concept of medical treatment. It may increase or reduce inequalities based on health conditions. It may lead to numerous new rights in the field of genetics. Good genome editing practice can only be achieved through the close cooperation between the natural and social sciences. The present paper will endeavor to examine this new form of dialogue.