This is really crazy. We need to write to the Supreme Court justices…and take action now. This can affect any and all dealing with the breast cancer gene. Please take a moment to read through this and then take action. It’s in our hands too. This is the link to contact the Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourt.gov/contact/contactus.aspx
1. A scientist discovers a gene that is related to breast cancer, later another one (BRCA1 and 2)
2. This is now at a company (Myriad) – they filed for patent rights for the GENEs not the metho. THE GENE….inside the human body!!!
3. US patent was granted years ago (I cannot believe that happened)
4. International patent was NOT granted (rightly so)
5. All patients who in the US have BRCA1/2 determination, have to pay (or their insurance has to pay) to be tested for this gene. Testing is ONLY done by Myriad.
6. All patients in the world can also get it for a much lower price since it is measured in a number of labs
7. Now finally something is happening. This ridiculous issue has gone to the Supreme Court. We need to make our voices heard. A human gene can not be patented. A method or procedure can…but not a gene.
The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in a key case about whether or not human DNA could be patented by biomedical firms. Media coverage portrayed the justices as skeptical about the assertions of Utah-based Myriad Genetics Inc., which holds patents on two genes.
The AP (4/15, Holland) reports that the Supreme Court “seemed worried” during Monday arguments “about the idea of companies patenting human genes.” Noting that the US Patent and Trademark Office “has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years,” the AP adds that “opponents of Myriad Genetics Inc.’s patents on two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer say such protection should not be given to something that can be found inside the human body.” Myriad argues that “the company’s genes can be patented because the DNA that Myriad isolated from the body has a ‘markedly different chemical structure’ from DNA within the body.”
The Wall Street Journal (4/16, Bravin, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) reports that challengers to the Myriad patents, including a medical researchers’ group represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, argue the genes themselves, like all natural products, cannot be patented, but methods for isolating them or using them might be.
The New York Times (4/16, Liptak, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reports that in “lively” exchanges, the justices “struggled to find a narrow way to rule on the momentous question of whether human genes may be patented.” Noting that the court’s ruling “will shape the course of scientific research and medical testing,” and “may alter the willingness of businesses to invest in the expensive work of isolating and understanding genetic material,” the Times adds that the Obama Administration, through Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., “largely supported” the challengers, and argued that the court’s ruling last year in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories “suggested that the correct answer in the case argued Monday was that merely isolating a gene was not sufficient for patent protection.”
USA Today (4/16, Wolf, 1.71M) reports, “Using analogies ranging from baseball bats to chocolate chip cookies, a majority of justices said Myriad Genetics’ isolation of the breast cancer genes was largely a force of nature, not invention. At the same time, the justices indicated a compromise could be in the works, siding with the company on its patent for a type of DNA that goes beyond merely extracting the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes from the body.”
The Washington Post (4/16, Barnes, 489K) reports, “Even the normally confident justices expressed some trepidation as they considered the complexities of patent law and the mysteries of biochemistry.” The Post notes that the justices’ “caution is warranted,” as the ruling “could shape the future of medical and genetic research and have profound effects on pharmaceuticals and genetically modified crops.”
The Los Angeles Times (4/16, Savage, 692K) reports, “During the argument Monday, most of the justices questioned the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to grant Myriad Genetics a patent on two isolated gene sequences that signal a high risk of breast or ovarian cancer.”