4:45 PM
 | 
Jun 14, 2019
 |  BioCentury  |  Politics, Policy & Law

No more crickets: The biopharma industry must speak out against the Trump administration’s fetal tissue ban

Editor’s Commentary: Biopharma companies should speak out against the Trump administration's fetal tissue research ban

When President Donald Trump considered a range of options about regulating the use of fetal tissue in medical research, he made a simple political calculation. A ban would solidify support from religious anti-abortion advocates, while there would be no political cost to cutting off research that contributes to biomedical progress.

Trump bet correctly on the indifference and timidity of the biopharma industry.

Biopharma companies, the organizations that represent them, and corporate leaders have obligations to speak out on the issue.

Unlike other political controversies biotech leaders have addressed over the last two years, like immigration and freedom of the press, fetal tissue research uniquely affects their companies. And biopharma executives can contribute expertise to the debate that other corporate leaders lack.

The ban prohibits intramural NIH researchers from conducting research involving cells derived from fetal tissue, and the administration has announced plans for new reviews of extramural research.

A loud backlash against the ban could lead to a reversal of the decision - it would not be Trump’s first about-face. At a minimum, public condemnation could change the way extramural research reviews are put into effect. The idea now is to invoke a law that would subject every experiment to a months-long review by a committee that includes theologians and ethicists, a process which would effectively strangle applications in red tape.

A House resolution seeking to prevent the administration from putting the byzantine extramural fetal tissue review process in place...

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