Designing an Economic Bioethics

By Mark Robinson and Joseph M. Gabriel

In a previous post, one of us has argued that bioethical deliberation needs to incorporate an analysis of “market forces in health-related decision-making” under what might be called “economic bioethics.”

To a certain extent, of course, bioethicists already do this. Industry-physician relations, for example, attracts substantial attention from the field. Other notable topics include the price of health-care services and technologies (and drugs in particular), patenting biological material, debates about funding controversial types of medical research, and debates about the allocation of resources during times of scarcity.

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The Need for an Economic Bioethics

abstract visuals of economics

By Mark Robinson

As the animations of markets increasingly shape the timbre and character of medicine, scholars studying ethical issues in health and medicine must be increasingly attentive to the role of market forces as they shape modern health care.

For those interested in the social, ethical, and conceptual dimensions of contemporary health and medicine, there has been a sustained focus on a key set of important challenges; how do we ensure adequate access to health for marginalized and global populations? What are the social and ethical implications of emergent technologies? How are issues of consent articulated in the everyday interactions of the clinic? What are our obligations to persons in terms of end-of-life care? These longstanding concerns regarding access, new technologies and the rights of patients comprise the major thrusts and foci of bioethics, health care ethics, and associated areas of inquiry.

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