Policy Archive

Supreme Court Rules Gene Patents Unlawful

Genetic Counseling & Testing

In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit challenging Myriad Genetics' patents on the BRCA genes. On April 15, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments, and ultimately ruled unanimously that the patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were invalid. This landmark ruling represented the culmination of the legal tug-of-war between Myriad and the plaintiffs, including the ACLU as well as individual, advocacy, and health care professional groups.

FORCE strongly supported the stance that exclusive gene patents had negative effects on the scientific, medical and patient communities, and filed an Amicus (Friend of the Court) brief on behalf of the plaintiffs. In addition, a FORCE representative testified before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and served as an expert witness on how the exclusive BRCA gene patents influenced research and access to care. 

Take Back Our Genes ImageThe abolishment of gene patents has fostered competition and substantial growth in the genetic and genomic testing marketplace. Costs for genetic testing have plunged while the growth of multigene panel tests has accelerated quickly enabling the identification of individuals who carry not only BRCA mutations, but also many "new" genetic mutations which cause increased risk of breast, ovarian, and related cancers. In addition to allowing more high-risk individuals to be proactive with their health, the new landscape is fostering a more personalized approach to cancer treatment with the development of therapies that target tumors based on their unique biology.

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12/14/2020 - Reached out to Hill leadership requesting that any end-of-year legislative package include a permanent extension of the 7.5% threshold for medical expense deductions. 

12/10/2020 - Joined over 300 national, state and community organizations in a letter to the Biden-Harris Transition Team urging the incoming administration to prioritize healthcare immediately upon taking office and outlining key priorities. 

12/9/2020 - Signed on to a letter asking Congressional leadership to include the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act (HR1570/S668) in the year-end legislative package, waiving Medicare coinsurance if polyps are found/removed during a colonoscopy screening.

11/17/2020 - Sent a letter to Texas legislators expressing support for genetic counselor licensure, an important mechanism to help patients and providers identify appropriately trained and qualified genetic counseling professionals.

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