Moore v. Regents of the University of California Revisited

Joshua A. Kalkstein
3 YALE SYMP. L. & TECH. art. no. 4

The development of new effective techniques to produce medically and scientifically useful substances from the cells of patients has helped to create a climate in which the ownership of those substances is at issue. When Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Sandoz) and Genetics Institute, Inc., together with a University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) researcher, appeared to become interested in the commercialization of the biological products of an identifiable cell line, a suit resulted. In retrospect, the plaintiff’s allegations of conversion and failure to provide ample facts for informed consent as described in Moore v. Regents of the University of California were inevitable; the California Supreme Court’s decision was not. Nevertheless, the Moore decision extended, in California, at least, the scope of those facts that must be divulged to the patient by the physician-researcher. In addition, Moore suggested that the research sponsor may share the responsibility for the candor of that disclosure and raised the possibility of the sale of diseased body parts to the highest bidder.