Bioethics: The New Frontier", Business Government and Society, Volume .
I chose the title "Bioethics: The New Frontier" because we are talking about a new technology which is very, very powerful, and yet, we have only just begun to work out the ethical issues about how we should use this technology and how we should exploit its power.
First, I thought it would be useful to give you some background on the biotechnology industry. It consists of a group of small entrepreneurial start-up companies, largely funded by venture capital money, together with 10 to 20 larger, profitable companies. Biotechnology was first developed by these venture-backed companies because most of the larger, established life science and pharmaceutical companies thought that biotechnology would never work. The large pharmaceutical companies did not invest in technology initially. Venture capitalists, together with scientists from academia, started the majority of biotech companies, and as a result, much of what was traditional in the pharmaceutical industry has been changed. This happens quite often with new people and a new technology.
Biotechnology itself involves using biology to discover, develop, manufacture, market, and sell products and services. To some extent, we used biology in the 1990s, and will for the next century, the way we used chemistry in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of the new products and services that we are developing replace what was done by chemical methods, 30 to 40 years ago. Most of the applications-because they involve biology-are going to be in healthcare. This is where the first products were marketed from our industry, and now there are over 100 approved biotechnology drugs and vaccines and hundreds of diagnostic tests available.
Today biotechnology is used extensively throughout the entire pharmaceutical industry. Our understanding has reached the stage where scientists use the technology to try to understand the basis of disease.