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1.  Coalition Priorité Cancer and the Pharmaceutical Industry in Quebec: Conflicts of Interest in the Reimbursement of Expensive Cancer Drugs? 
Healthcare Policy  2013;9(1):52-64.
In the context of scarce public resources, patient interest groups have increasingly turned to private organizations for financing, including the pharmaceutical industry. This practice puts advocacy groups in a situation of potential conflicts between the interests of patients and those of the drug companies. The interests of patients and industry can converge on issues related to the approval and reimbursement of medications. But even on this issue, interests do not always align perfectly.
Using the Quebec example of Coalition Priorité Cancer (CPC) as a case study, we examine the ethical issues raised by such financial relationships in the context of drug reimbursement decision-making. We collected, compiled and analyzed publicly available information on the CPC's organization and activities; this approach allowed us to raise and discuss important questions regarding the possible influence exerted on patient groups by donors. We conclude with some recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3999544  PMID: 23968674
2.  Examining the ethical and social issues of health technology design through the public appraisal of prospective scenarios: a study protocol describing a multimedia-based deliberative method 
The design of health technologies relies on assumptions that affect how they will be implemented, such as intended use, complexity, impact on user autonomy, and appropriateness. Those who design and implement technologies make several ethical and social assumptions on behalf of users and society more broadly, but there are very few tools to examine prospectively whether such assumptions are warranted and how the public define and appraise the desirability of health innovations. This study protocol describes a three-year study that relies on a multimedia-based prospective method to support public deliberations that will enable a critical examination of the social and ethical issues of health technology design.
The first two steps of our mixed-method study were completed: relying on a literature review and the support of our multidisciplinary expert committee, we developed scenarios depicting social and technical changes that could unfold in three thematic areas within a 25-year timeframe; and for each thematic area, we created video clips to illustrate prospective technologies and short stories to describe their associated dilemmas. Using this multimedia material, we will: conduct four face-to-face deliberative workshops with members of the public (n = 40) who will later join additional participants (n = 25) through an asynchronous online forum; and analyze and integrate three data sources: observation, group deliberations, and a self-administered participant survey.
This study protocol will be of interest to those who design and assess public involvement initiatives and to those who examine the implementation of health innovations. Our premise is that using user-friendly tools in a deliberative context that foster participants’ creativity and reflexivity in pondering potential technoscientific futures will enable our team to analyze a range of normative claims, including some that may prove problematic and others that may shed light over potentially more valuable design options. This research will help fill an important knowledge gap; intervening earlier in technological development could help reduce undesirable effects and inform the design and implementation of more appropriate innovations.
PMCID: PMC4229879  PMID: 24952582
Health technology; Ethics; Audiovisual based-elicitation methods; Prospective scenarios; Deliberative methods; Public involvement
4.  A six-minute video-clip to ponder the values fostered by health technology 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2012;5(10):560-564.
As part of our research team's knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) initiatives, we developed a six-minute video-clip to enable productive deliberations among technology developers, clinicians and patient representatives. This video-clip summarises in plain language the valuable goals and features that are embedded in health technology and raises questions regarding the direction that should be taken by health care innovations. The use of such video-clips creates unique opportunities for face-to-face deliberations by enabling participants to interact and debate policy issues that are pivotal to the sustainability of health care systems. In our experience, we found that audiovisual-elicitation-based KTE initiatives can fill an important communication gap among key stakeholders: pondering, from a health care system perspective, why and how certain kinds of medical technologies bring a more valuable response to health care needs when compared to others.
PMCID: PMC3494829  PMID: 23173021
Health Technology; Values; Health Care Systems; Audiovisual-elicitation-based Methodology; Knowledge Transfer and Exchange.
5.  Toward interoperable bioscience data 
Nature genetics  2012;44(2):121-126.
To make full use of research data, the bioscience community needs to adopt technologies and reward mechanisms that support interoperability and promote the growth of an open ‘data commoning’ culture. Here we describe the prerequisites for data commoning and present an established and growing ecosystem of solutions using the shared ‘Investigation-Study-Assay’ framework to support that vision.
PMCID: PMC3428019  PMID: 22281772
6.  Pharmacogenomic technologies: a necessary "luxury" for better global public health? 
Pharmacogenomic technologies aim to redirect drug development to increase safety and efficacy of individual care. There is much hope that their implementation in the drug development process will help respond to population health needs, particularly in developing countries. However, there is also fear that novel pharmacogenomic drugs will remain too costly, be designed for the needs of the wealthy nations, and so constitute an unnecessary "luxury" for most populations. In this paper, we analyse the promise that pharmacogenomic technologies hold for improving global public health and identify strategies and challenges associated with their implementation.
This paper evaluates the capacity of pharmacogenomic technologies to meet six criteria described by the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics group: 1) impact of the technology, 2) technology appropriateness, 3) capacity to address local burdens, 4) feasibility to be implemented in reasonable time, 5) capacity to reduce the knowledge gap, and 6) capacity for indirect benefits. We argue that the implementation of pharmacogenomic technologies in the drug development process can positively impact population health. However, this positive impact depends on how and for which purposes the technologies are used. We discuss the potential of these technologies to stimulate drug discovery in the case of rare (orphan diseases) or neglected diseases, but also to reduce acute adverse drug reactions in infectious disease treatment and prevention, which promises to improve global public health.
The implementation of pharmacogenomic technologies may lead to the development of drugs that appear to be a "luxury" for populations in need of numerous interventions that are known to have a demonstrable impact on population health (e.g., secure access to potable water, reduction of social inequities, health education). However, our analysis shows that pharmacogenomic technologies do have the potential to redirect drug development and distribution so as to improve the health of vulnerable populations. Strategies should thus be developed to better direct their implementation towards meeting the needs and responding to the realities of populations of the developing world (i.e., social, cultural and political acceptability, and local health burdens), making pharmacogenomic technologies a necessary "luxury" for global public health.
PMCID: PMC3175439  PMID: 21864366
Pharmacogenomic technologies; drug development; health innovations; global; public health; developing world populations; University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics criteria; inequity; luxury
7.  Who should travel in kidney exchange programs: the donor, or the organ? 
Open Medicine  2011;5(1):e23-e25.
In 2009 the Canadian Blood services launched the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry. This program circumvents the obstacle presented by blood-group or immunologic incompatibility between a living potential donor and his or her intended recipient. At the beginning, only 3 provinces joined the program, but as of October 2010 all Canadian provinces are participants. Up to now, participating donors have travelled to recipients’ transplant centres. We might question whether, in a country such as Canada, the donor or the organ should travel. In this article, we review the arguments for donor travel and the arguments for shipping the kidney.
PMCID: PMC3205812  PMID: 22046215
8.  Supervisor-Student Relations: Examining the Spectrum of Conflicts of Interest in Bioscience Laboratories 
Accountability in research  2009;16(2):106-126.
Much attention has been given to financial conflicts of interest (COI) in bioscience research. Yet to date, surprisingly little attention has focused on other COIs that arise in supervisor-student relations. We examine a spectrum of related situations, ranging from standard graduate supervision through to dual relationships sometimes found in research with commercial potential. We illustrate some of the less-obvious factors that can bias supervisory judgment, and situate financial COI along a spectrum of forces that are deserving of recognition. We conclude by providing two sets of recommendations: one for individual supervisors, and the other for institutions and policy-makers.
PMCID: PMC2876133  PMID: 19353388 CAMSID: cams390
conflict of interest; university; bioscience; laboratory; professors; students
9.  Global bioethics – myth or reality? 
BMC Medical Ethics  2006;7:10.
There has been debate on whether a global or unified field of bioethics exists. If bioethics is a unified global field, or at the very least a closely shared way of thinking, then we should expect bioethicists to behave the same way in their academic activities anywhere in the world. This paper investigates whether there is a 'global bioethics' in the sense of a unified academic community.
To address this question, we study the web-linking patterns of bioethics institutions, the citation patterns of bioethics papers and the buying patterns of bioethics books.
All three analyses indicate that there are geographical and institutional differences in the academic behavior of bioethicists and bioethics institutions.
These exploratory studies support the position that there is no unified global field of bioethics. This is a problem if the only reason is parochialism. But these regional differences are probably of less concern if one notices that bioethics comes in many not always mutually understandable dialects.
PMCID: PMC1592295  PMID: 16965631

Results 1-10 (10)