Naturally-occurring human genes, including the breast cancer predisposition gene (BRCA), can no longer be patented by companies thanks to a recent decision by the Supreme Court.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been awarding patents on human genes for almost 30 years, but the court has now said that laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas are not patentable.
"We hold that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated," wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the court's decision.
Myriad Genetics Inc. currently sells the only BRCA gene test, which looks for mutations associated with much greater risks of breast and ovarian cancer, due to patents on two genes. Opponents of its patents say the company can use the patents to keep other researchers from working with the BRCA gene to develop other tests.
"Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them," said Sandra Park, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union Women's Rights Project. "Because of this ruling, patients will have greater access to genetic testing and scientists can engage in research on these genes without fear of being sued." Read the full details here:
Luckily, our Supreme Court ruled that medical device companies cannot stifle medical innovation by patenting a gene and thereby limit other companies' ability to develop useful tests and procedures associated with the patented gene. This is a major victory for consumers.
If you or a family member believe you have a medical malpractice case, contact Crandall & Pera Law today for a free case evaluation. Crandall & Pera Law is available to help answer your questions and guide you in determining your next steps.