Family of Henrietta Lacks Reaches Private Settlement Deal with Thermo Fi
The family of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were used for medical advancements without her consent, reached a settlement with Thermo Fisher Scientific.
The family of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman whose cells were unlawfully used to make groundbreaking discoveries in medicine and science, have reached a private settlement deal with the biotech company, Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Henrietta Lacks' family has successfully reached a confidential settlement with Thermo Fisher Scientific after accusing the biotech giant of profiting from the unauthorized use of Lacks' miraculous HeLa Cells. This victory was achieved after hours of negotiation at the federal courthouse in Baltimore, with some of Lacks' grandchildren present to witness the announcement.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, representing the family, expressed their satisfaction with the outcome. In a statement, he stated, "The parties are pleased that they were able to find a way to resolve this matter outside of Court and will have no further comment about the settlement."
Lacks' HeLa Cells, harvested in 1951 during her cervical cancer treatment at John Hopkins Hospital, exhibited remarkable properties. They doubled in number every 20 to 24 hours in the lab, leading to groundbreaking advancements in medical research, including the development of the polio vaccine and treatments for cancer and Parkinson's disease. Lacks had not given consent for her cells to be used.
It was not until decades later that Lacks' family learned of John Hopkins' unethical practices. In 2021, they filed a lawsuit against Thermo Fisher, alleging that the company profited from the "unlawful conduct" of John Hopkins Hospital by selling and mass-producing Lacks' living cell tissue. The lawsuit identified at least 12 products marketed by Thermo Fisher that contained the HeLa cell line.
On August 1, Lacks' family gathered with Ben Crump at Baltimore's waterfront to celebrate their victory, coinciding with what would have been Lacks' 103rd birthday. Balloons and a cake were brought to commemorate the occasion. During a press conference, Crump expressed his joy, stating, "We did it -- and what a birthday present today." Alfred Lacks Carter Jr., Lacks' grandson, also expressed relief and satisfaction, stating, "There couldn't have been a more fitting day for her to have justice, for her family to have relief. It was a long fight -- over 70 years -- and Henrietta Lacks gets her day."