The World Medical Association (WMA) has come out in support of the Icelandic Medical Association in its opposition to the setting up of a national health sector gene database which would cover the entire population of Iceland. The decision was made at the WMA council meeting two weeks ago in Chile, when the principles of patient confidentiality, informed consent and the openness of scientific research were cited in support of the WMA's decision.
The Icelandic parliament passed a bill last December allowing the creation of a national database which would allow a private biotechnology company to link the population's medical records with genealogical data in order to conduct research into the causes of genetically inherited disorders. Patients have until 17 June to opt out of the project.
The Icelandic government has pointed out that not only will patients' rights be protected but that the right to develop new drugs will not be given to just one company.