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Nanoethics. 2011 Dec;5(3):269-283. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

Ethics and Nanopharmacy: Value Sensitive Design of New Drugs.

Abstract

Although applications are being developed and have reached the market, nanopharmacy to date is generally still conceived as an emerging technology. Its concept is ill-defined. Nanopharmacy can also be construed as a converging technology, which combines features of multiple technologies, ranging from nanotechnology to medicine and ICT. It is still debated whether its features give rise to new ethical issues or that issues associated with nanopharma are merely an extension of existing issues in the underlying fields. We argue here that, regardless of the alleged newness of the ethical issues involved, developments occasioned by technological advances affect the roles played by stakeholders in the field of nanopharmacy to such an extent that this calls for a different approach to responsible innovation in this field. Specific features associated with nanopharmacy itself and features introduced to the associated converging technologies- bring about a shift in the roles of stakeholders that call for a different approach to responsibility. We suggest that Value Sensitive Design is a suitable framework to involve stakeholders in addressing moral issues responsibly at an early stage of development of new nanopharmaceuticals.

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