Ethical, social and legal implications of pharmacogenomics: a critical review

Community Genet. 2001;4(4):204-14. doi: 10.1159/000064194.


Objective: My aim was to examine the ethical, social and legal implications of pharmacogenomics.

Methods: I performed a critical review of the literature. The primary focal point is the bioethical principle discussed. The second outcome measure is the perspective of the discussion.

Results: This review documents that the pharmacogenomics issues of concern are comparable to issues concerning other genetic developments in general. However, two main issues are particular to the case of pharmacogenomics. Firstly, this review reveals that society, industry, groups and individuals appreciate the prospect of pharmacogenomics very differently. Secondly, there is a lack of research into the post-marketing implications of pharmacogenomics.

Conclusion: An extensive focus on the ethical, social and legal implications of pharmacogenomics, in terms of both pre- as well as post-marketing issues, is essential. Also, a multidisciplinary approach which includes individual and group opinions in an upfront manner in the research and development process is essential. Otherwise, there is a substantial risk that the positive prospects of pharmacogenomics will not survive due to fear and a lack of acceptance and understanding on the part of the general public.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Beneficence
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic / economics
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Genetic Privacy*
  • Genetic Testing
  • Government Agencies
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Orphan Drug Production
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations* / economics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations* / metabolism
  • Pharmacogenetics / economics
  • Pharmacogenetics / education
  • Pharmacogenetics / ethics*
  • Prejudice
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Justice


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations