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BIO Expands its Statement of Ethical Principles

April 18, 2014
Last year marked the 20th Anniversary of the BIO International Convention. In her keynote as the newly elected Chair of BIO, Rachel King emphasized BIO members’ commitment to delivering bigger lifesaving and life changing breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture and energy. “Delivering breakthroughs is at the heart of who we are,” King said in her speech, while also noting the need to effectively convey BIO’s message. “As we work to deliver breakthroughs … we must work just as hard communicating the importance of what we do … and spend the time illustrating for people just how risky innovation is … but at the end of that process we do big things – we cure disease and feed hungry people.”

BIO members are not only committed to the discovery, development and delivery of new applications of biotechnology that promise to save lives or improve the quality of life, but are also committed to advancing the socially responsible development and use of biotechnology products in healthcare, agriculture, energy and the environment. As our member companies continue to make strides in scientific developments, we recognize that this technology should be approached with an appropriate mixture of enthusiasm, oversight and humility.

The BIO Board Standing Committee on Bioethics (BSCB) was established to define, articulate and communicate BIO's positions with respect to major bioethics issues. As part of this commitment, BIO developed and made publically available a Statement of Ethical Principles. The Statement of Principles provides a framework for our industry to consider, examine and address ethical issues as they arise. BIO has posted an expanded Statement to reflect more recent scientific and policy developments. The Statement is available here.

BIO has also examined pressing bioethical issues through other documents, including a series of “Points to Consider” for member companies and stakeholders confronting social and ethical issues such as benefit-risk, conflict of interest and expanded access programs. The “Points to Consider” series can be found here.

And our work continues. Planning for the 21st BIO International Convention in San Diego this June is well under way. The Convention provides BIO with an unparalleled opportunity to advance our commitment to encourage and facilitate discussion of the questions and controversies surrounding the development and use of biotechnology products. This year, the BSCB is sponsoring an interactive panel session on the bioethics of drug development. The session will be open to the public, without cost for attendance. The discussion will be based on a case study that focuses on the three major drug development milestones—pre-clinical development, clinical development and regulatory approval, and post-regulatory activities—and explores the intersection of drug development and ethics. The panel discussion, moderated by Steve Usdin of BioCentury, will be complemented by opportunities for audience participation including by having the audience play a role—such as company board of directors—and voting.

More information about the Convention can be found here.

We look forward to continuing the Bioethics discussion as we all work to proactively advance the socially responsible use of biotechnology.

For more information about the Board Standing Committee on Bioethics, please contact Sara Radcliffe at

Russell Medford, MD, PhD, President, Salutramed Group
Alexis Borisy, Chairman and Co-Founder, Foundation Medicine