Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Unethical Patent

Patenting life or genetic molecular entities involved with human medicine have profound negative effects on society in many ways. The patenting of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes involved in breast and overian cancer is a good example of the problems capitalistic ownership of "life" can bring to suffering patients.

Here is a story written from another blog:

Will breast cancer gene lawsuit end gene patenting?
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union joined the Association for Molecular Pathology, the American College of Medical Genetics, the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, and numerous other plaintiffs--including individual breast cancer patients--in filing a lawsuit against Myriad Genetics, the U.S. Patent Office, and the directors of the University of Utah Research Foundation. Myriad Genetics has patents in the U.S. for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, the presence of which has been linked to an increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer. The suit alleges that such gene patenting is unconstitutional, in large part because "ease of access to genomic discoveries is crucial if basic research is to be expeditiously translated into clinical laboratory tests that benefit patients in the emerging era of personalized and predictive medicine," and such patents restrict the use of the genes.

The ACLU suit points out that:
Because of the patents, defendant Myriad has the right to prevent clinicians form independently looking at or interpreting a person's BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to determine if the person is at a higher risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Because of the patents and because Myriad chooses not to license the patents broadly, women who fear they may be at an increased risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer are barred from having anyone look at their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes or interpret them except for the patent holder. [...] Many women at risk cannot even be tested because they are uninsured and/or cannot afford the test offered by Myriad.

For more on this topic go to the author's blog site

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