The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that genes that occur naturally in the body cannot be patented. This means that Myriad’s expensive stronghold on the diagnostic BRCA gene test is over. Myriad can no longer file patent infringement suits against other companies who perform the BRCA screening test. Which means the cost of the test will likely come down since Myriad will no longer hold a monopoly on it. Yay!
NY TIMES: The central question for the justices in the case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, No. 12-398, was whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that may not be patented or “human-made inventions” eligible for patent protection.
Myriad’s discovery of the precise location and sequence of the genes at issue, BRCA1 and BRCA2, did not qualify, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court. “A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated,” he said. “It is undisputed that Myriad did not create or alter any of the genetic information encoded in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.”
“Groundbreaking, innovative or even brilliant discovery does not by itself satisfy the criteria” for patent eligibility, he said.
IBT: Today, the court struck down a major barrier to patient care and medical innovation,” Sandra Park, an American Civil Liberties Union senior staff attorney, said in a statement. “Myriad did not invent the BRCA genes and should not control them. 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.
YAY!!!! So happy to hear this news!
Wonder if my Myriad bill for $4100 (I was told the test costs $7000, my insurance would pay the bulk and I had to cover $700, yet I got a bill for $4100) from last November will finally be processed correctly — and maybe for less? A girl can hope!