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Books, Journals, New Media
October 28, 1998

Genes and Health Care: Access to the Genome: The Challenge to Equality

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;280(16):1455. doi:10.1001/jama.280.16.1455-JBK1028-2-1

In considering the goods and harms that may flow from advances in genetic technology and its application in medicine, the authors assume that the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages. They believe that genetic screening, gene therapy, and genetic enhancement will be so effective and desirable that the problem for society will be how to make sure that these goods are distributed equitably.

In developing this line of reasoning, the authors review where we are and where we are going in gene technology and evaluate how we have dealt with distribution of health care resources for other technologies and therapies, such as renal dialysis, organ transplantation, and the treatment of AIDS. The work is divided into perfunctory considerations of the Human Genome Project and its promises, the economic and social factors in health care access, how gene technology might be distributed, and, finally, possible societal solutions for fair access to the goods of the technology. The Human Genome Project aspect of the work is very brief and nontechnical, accessible to the lay reader, but not challenging for a professional audience. Although some of the pros and cons of genetic screening, gene therapy, and genetic enhancement are provided, the authors are not rigorous in their argument that the goods will in fact outweigh the downside risks.