Body brokers

Posted: 18 November 2009 in Uncategorized
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The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a recent paper by Michel Anteby of the Harvard Business School, there’s a growing market in cadavers for training and experiments.

The business of supplying cadavers has market-like characteristics, but isn’t a typical market. For one thing, it’s basically illegal in the U.S. to buy and sell cadavers. But, Anteby explains, reimbursing suppliers for the cost of their services involved with providing bodies is OK.

In a conversation with the Health Blog, Anteby said there’s fragmentary evidence that middlemen not connected with medical schools are attracting “several thousand” cadavers a year, out of a total of perhaps 20,000 cadavers donated every year in the U.S. Hard data on cadaver costs are also scare, but estimates of $4,000 to $5,000 each seem about right, he says.

Clearly, the U.S. market in cadavers is part of a larger phenomenon, the global market in body parts. These are currently illegal markets both large corporations and neoclassical economists would like to see made legal—and profitable.

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