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J Med Ethics 30:44-49 doi:10.1136/jme.2003.005330
  • The Olivieri symposium

The Olivieri debacle: where were the heroes of bioethics?

  1. F Baylis
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor F Baylis
 Department of Bioethics and Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4H7; francoise.baylisdal.ca
  • Accepted 17 June 2003

Abstract

All Canadian bioethicists need to reflect on the meaning and value of their work, to see more clearly how the ethics of bioethics is being undermined from within. In the case involving Dr Olivieri, the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto, and Apotex Inc, there were countless opportunities for bioethical heroism. And yet, no bioethics heroes emerged from this case. Much has been written about the hospital’s and the university’s failures in this case. But what about the deafening silence from the Canadian bioethics community? Given the duty of bioethicists to “speak truth to power”, this silence is troubling. To date, nothing has been written about the silence. This article is intended as a partial remedy. As well, the article pays tribute to heretofore unsung heroes among Dr Olivieri’s research colleagues.

Footnotes

  • The Health Protection Branch has since been renamed the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada. The Health Protection Branch was a branch of government responsible for managing risks and benefits related to health. The new organisation is responsible for managing risks and benefits related to health products and food.*

  • All page numbers given in this paper refer to the actual printed report unless otherwise stated.**

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