Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-24-2009

Graduate Advisor

Ronald Munson

Committee

John Brunero

Robert Northcott

Abstract

Genomic medicine, including pharmacogenomics, represents a potential paradigm shift in the diagnosis of disease and delivery of healthcare. Beyond the promise to address and resolve pandemics affecting specific ethnic/racial communities is the potential to develop pharmacological therapies custom tailored to the individual patient¿s genomic profile. However, the delivery of such promise rests on the contribution of genomic samples from individuals in communities where the culpable polymorphisms are present in high volumes. With the potential for an ever-widening disparity in overall population health among the socio-economic tiers in which these communities are often found, a theory of justice is needed to address and resolve concerns of distributive justice. I submit Norman Daniels¿ application of Rawls¿ theory of justice as fairness can provide a framework to guide policymakers in navigating these matters and ensure that subject populations are not unjustly exploited for the sole medical benefit of those individuals that can afford such treatments, while those that contributed their specimens for the development of new therapies are left with only sub-standard treatments for the same maladies, if any at all.

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