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Opinion 9.095 - The Use of Patents and Other Means to Limit Availability of Medical Procedures

Physicians have ethical responsibilities not only to learn from but also, when possible, to contribute to the total store of scientific knowledge. Physicians should strive to advance medical science and make their achievements known through publication or other means of disseminating such information. This encourages physicians to innovate and to share ensuing advances.

The use of patents, trade secrets, confidentiality agreements, or other means to limit the availability of medical procedures places significant limitation on the dissemination of medical knowledge, and is therefore unethical. (V, VII)

Issued June 1996 based on the report "Ethical Issues in the Patenting of Medical Procedures," adopted June 1995 (Food & Drug Law J. 1998;53:341-57); Updated June 2008 based on the report "Trademarks, Patents, Copyrights, and Other Legal Restrictions on Medical Procedures," adopted November 2007.