“The interesting question in the debate about nanotechnology is about trust and acceptance on a societal level. You do not want to get a polarized debate on nanotechnology, between believers and non‐believers. […] within the medical area these types of polarized discussions are less apparent as people have a much higher acceptance when the innovation can actually help them. So, there is a totally different risk perception on the same technology.” [Policy]

Specific societal issues that could be related to the use of nanotechnologies in the healthcare sector:

Regulation and regulatory preparedness

  • the regulatory frameworks are developed too slowly compared to technological advancement
  • A regulatory framework covering the aspects of “safe by design” products has to be developed


  • There is the need for standard strategies for the risk assessment and safety testing of nanomaterials; reliability and validity of the current toxicity testing methods should be improved
  • Debate on safety and guidelines is mostly expert oriented, not policy oriented, there is no social debate on nanotechnology


  • Negative effects of a single nanomaterial, when not clearly communicated, could influence reputation of nanotechnology as a whole
  • Policy makers and investors do not have sufficient knowledge about the innovations

Technical issues

  • Production issues in employing nanotechnology concerning scalability, affordability, integration of new devices
“In the future we don’t even need doctors to analyse the results, but people can do this in their homes. […] Therefore, we need to radically revise our healthcare system. In the future people need to be able to measure and have insights in their health, without necessarily going to the doctor. Hopefully with having insights in these measures people will also change their behavior.” [R&I private]