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 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.
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.
3/31/2021 - Expressed support for legislation (S.5355/A.2151) that would establish genetic counseling as a licensed profession in the state of New York.
3/16/2021 - Signed on in support of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021 (H.R. 1946), which will give CMS authority to cover blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests and future test methods (like urine or hair tests), once approved by the FDA.
2/17/2021 - In a letter to President Biden, underscored the urgency of prioritizing access to the COVID-19 vaccine for patients with active cancer and survivors of cancer.
2/4/2021 - Joined a group of 75 orgs in a letter to HHS expressing concern that new Medicare Payment Modernization models proposed by the prior administration could jeopardize access to medically necessary prescription drugs and harm patients with serious illnesses.