Norway: Biobank assets to be privatised?
Oslo/Levanger – A report released by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) proposes setting up a national biobank company in Norway. After analysing ethical, judicial and political arguments, the study ordered by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Health and Care Services suggests a single company should commercialise biomaterials assets from the country’s resources. Since 1943, Norwegian hospitals, research institutions, and governmental health authorities have collected and systemised large amounts of biological material and patient data. This has given rise over the years to almost 2,000 research-based biobanks and close to 200 clinical biobanks. The report recommends using Hunt Biosciences as a model for a national company.
Hunt Biosciences was established in 2007 to provide pharma companies with biomarker discovery and validation services using biosamples collected over a quarter of a century from more than 250,000 people in the Nord-Trøndelag region. The company, which is owned by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and North Trøndelag county, holds an exclusive commercial license to the NTNU-biobank material. The proposed biobank company could obtain a similar license for all Norwegian material.