UK backs down on tissue bill

Government tables amendments to a draft law that scientists said would hinder vital medical research

Stephen Pincock(Stephen.pincock@thescientisteurope.com)
Jun 22, 2004

The British government has made crucial changes to a draft law governing the use of human tissue samples in research, responding to sustained pressure from the scientific community.

The Human Tissue Bill, due to have its third reading in the House of Commons on Monday (June 28), would have outlawed the use of human tissue for research or education without a patient's explicit consent—including blood samples and remnants of tissue taken for diagnostic purposes.

Scientists, including the Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust and others, have warned loudly for months that the draft law was too restrictive and would hamper vital research. The government said Wednesday (June 23) it had listened to those concerns.

"The purpose of the Human Tissue Bill continues to be to protect the rights and expectations of patients and families, whilst ensuring a framework in which important medical research can flourish," said health minister Rosie Winterton....

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