Gene Patenting Lawsuit Against Myriad Genetics
On June 13, 2013, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Myriad Genetics' patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were invalid.
FORCE agrees with the Court that genes - as products of nature - should not be patented. FORCE filed an amicus brief in support of the ACLU and testified to the Patent and Trademark Office about the burden that gene patents place on members of our community.
Specifically, the Court stated that "In this case ... Myriad did not create anything. To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention."
What does this mean for our community?
- It paves the way for other companies to test for mutations on these genes and in fact companies have already stepped forward to offer BRCA testing at a lower cost than Myriad's test. FORCE will be compiling a list of labs offering BRCA testing.
- Patients will now have the opportunity to get a second opinion to confirm their genetic test results prior to making life altering preventive surgery decisions.
More women (and men) will have access to potentially life-saving genetic information because competition has lowered the cost of these genetic tests.
- No single company will be able to prevent others from conducting testing and research on the BRCA genes.
- As more people learn their risk for cancer and their genetic status, this could accelerate clinical trial participation and hereditary cancer research.
We applaud this decision and believe that one barrier to personalized medicine, genetic testing, hereditary cancer research, and better prevention and treatment options has been surmounted with this ruling.
FORCE recommends people consult with an expert in cancer genetics before and after genetic testing for cancer risk. You can visit our finding health care section or call our toll free helpline, to find a genetics expert in your area.
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