Corruption the main issue in bioethics, says leading medical academic

Xavier Symons
5 Oct 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Bioethical debate tends to focus on controversial medical procedures, such as genetic modification, IVF, euthanasia and abortion. The latest issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics questions this, arguing that corruption is the greatest moral challenge facing medicine today.

In the lead article, Dr Subrata Chattopadhyay asserts that, "undermining the moral vision -- and nobility -- of the art of healing, corruption is arguably the most serious ethical crisis in medicine today". Chattopadhyay says that corruption in medicine is common everywhere, though he focuses his home country of India. The corruption of disgraced former WMA president Ketan Desai is, it seems, indicative of endemic misconduct.

Other articles in the issue include a summary of corruption cases in several of the major pharmaceutical companies of Europe and the US and the declining ethical standards of the Indian Medical Council.

Dr Chattopadhyay offers a stinging diagnosis of the failure in bioethics to attend to issues of corruption: "Unlike esoteric ethical puzzles such as determining the moral status of a part-human part-animal embryo, this problem does not trigger enough hair-splitting debates to satisfy their philosophical minds."