Good enough for the Third world

J Med Philos. 2000 Aug;25(4):427-50. doi: 10.1076/0360-5310(200008)25:4;1-A;FT427.


Over the past two years, much has been made by some governments and the media about the possible callous and racist distribution of Quinacrine by two Americans to sterilize women in the Third World. The main criticism of the practice is that though Quinacrine is unapproved by the developed world's health regulatory agencies for this particular use in the developed world due to inadequate testing for long-term side effects, it is used on defenseless women in the developing world.I argue that the distribution of unapproved medical and other products is morally permissible if it satisfies two conditions: agent-centered utilitarianism and Kant's Categorical Imperative. Roughly, I contend that if the situation will probably improve and no one is treated as a mere means, then it is ethical either to give or to sell the products to those who choose to have them, regardless of where in the world they live.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caustics*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Ethics*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Quinacrine*
  • Sterilization, Reproductive / standards*


  • Caustics
  • Quinacrine