January 21, 2022

Taiwan to destroy millions of tissue samples

Millions of biomedical samples in Taiwan could soon be destroyed because they were obtained without proper informed consent. According to a recent law, all specimens must have the participants’ written consent or they must be destroyed on February 5. The decision has put Taiwanese researchers at loggerheads with human rights groups.

Millions of biomedical samples in Taiwan could soon be destroyed because they were obtained without proper informed consent. According to a recent law, all specimens must have the participants’ written consent or they must be destroyed on February 5. The decision has put Taiwanese researchers at loggerheads with human rights groups.

According to the China Post, the Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s leading research institute, opposes the measure because it would hamper research and destroy valuable genetic material and the hard work of researchers. There also is a financial angle to the debate. By February, 20 biological databases will have fully authorized biomedical samples. Sales of the data could prove to be lucrative business.

Tracking down the donors is a daunting task. Researchers must go back and ask participants to provide more biological data for new research, sign “re-agreement” documents, and then undergo review by the ethics committee. Furthermore, if a single sample becomes useful for another experiment, yet another consent form must be filled in. Chen Chien-jen, of the Academia Sinica, says that a ban on sending samples overseas effectively excludes Taiwan from participating in multinational clinical trials for drug companies.

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other groups insist that the government must stand firm. There have been several scandals in the country involving unauthorised use of biological samples. ~ China Post, Nov 7

Michael Cook
informed consent
Taiwan
tissue samples