Policy Archive Successful Effort
Supreme Court Rules Gene Patents Unlawful
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 healthcare 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.
The 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.
8/14/2023 - Joined stakeholders in a letter to the American College of Physicians expressing disappointment with the preventive colorectal cancer screening guidance it published, which conflicts with recommendations provided by the USPSTF, NCCRT, ACS, NCCN and other reputable organizations.
7/21/2023 - Wrote House and Senate leadership, expressing support for increased funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in its staffing and administrative support of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) as part of the FY24 appropriations bill.
6/7/2023 - Joined physicians and patient advocacy groups to support California AB 632, which will allow patients to receive prostate cancer screening without a deductible, copayment, or coinsurance for prostate cancer screening, including men over the age of 40 who are at high risk for prostate cancer.