The ethical assessment of nanotechnologies within HTA processes

Pietro Refolo, Dario Sacchini, Antonio Gioacchino Spagnolo, Viviana Daloiso, Roberta Minacori

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The need to assess, from an ethical point of view, the use of health care technologies  expressed, for a long time, from a theoretical point of view  is nowadays acknowledged as a part of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA). It is a research methodology, widely used within the international context, to inform technology-related policymaking in health care. Nanotechnologies may be outlined as the expression of the human ability to manipulate atoms and to build, thanks to the properties typical of the size (nanometric scale), devices and materials with novel properties and function. They have been investigated within several fields; even though medicine, where they are known as “nanomedicine”, is the field were there is a greater interest in, moving from the prevention to the diagnosis and to the treatment. In particular, nanotechnologies introduce novel therapies (in the form of drug delivery), new drugs (drugs discovery) and new tools and devices (nanomaterials, nanodevices). In this perspective, nanotechnologies can be considered as health technologies and, therefore, submitted to an HTA process. With reference to the ethical domain, the process traditionally used for the evaluation of health technologies may be inadequate when applied to nanotechnologies, because of many specific ethical issues. The paper underlies those elements of “inadequacy”, trying to outline some possible strategies for intervention
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHTA for Health Systems Sustainability
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventAnnual Meeting HTAi - Rio De Janeiro
Duration: 25 Jun 201129 Jun 2011


ConferenceAnnual Meeting HTAi
CityRio De Janeiro


  • Health Technology Assessment (HTA)
  • ethical assessment
  • nanotechnologies
  • nanotecnologie
  • valutazione etica


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