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Anorak | Supreme Court rules that US companies cannot own the patents on human genes

Supreme Court rules that US companies cannot own the patents on human genes

by | 13th, June 2013

SO. Can you patent human genes? The US Supreme Court – yep, it actually got that far before someone saw sanity – said you cannot:

The case involved Myriad Genetics Inc., which holds patents related to two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that can indicate whether a woman has a heightened risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said the genes Myriad isolated are products of nature, which aren’t eligible for patents.

The high court’s ruling was a win for a coalition of cancer patients, medical groups and geneticists who filed a lawsuit in 2009 challenging Myriad’s patents. Thanks to those patents, the Salt Lake City company has been the exclusive U.S. commercial provider of genetic tests for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

The challengers argued the patents have allowed Myriad to dictate the type and terms of genetic screening available for the diseases, while also dissuading research by other laboratories.

America is going mad – stark, raving mad.

Spotter: @tylercowen



Posted: 13th, June 2013 | In: Money, Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink