A lawsuit is in process against the patent holders of genes that are known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer. A federal judge allowed a lawsuit to proceed against the Patent and Trademark Office and Myriad Genetics that was awarded exclusive rights to human genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, known to detect early signs of breast and ovarian cancer.
The lawsuit, which is the first of its kind, claims that the patents violate free speech by restricting research. According to the dozens of patients and researchers, the genes cannot be patented because they exist as naturally occurring products of nature. Myriad did not invent or create anything new, they pinpointed information that was apart of the genetic code as it exists within the natural population. The question therefore arises of how a corporate entity can be allowed to own, and brand, a segment of life?
In Myriad's defense, they argued that there was no legal standing for the lawsuit nor any basis for the claims against their patents that give them a stranglehold monopoly on predictive testing for breast and ovarian cancer. Judge Robert W. Sweet disagrees, noting that the plaintiff's claims are completely sound in declaring that Myriad's "ownership rights over products of nature, laws of nature, natural phenomena, abstract ideas and basic human knowledge and thought [are] in violation of the First Amendment's protections over freedom of thought," allowing the lawsuit to continue.
Meanwhile, "women who fear they may be at increased risk are barred from having anyone look at their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes or interpret them except for the patent holder, which charges about $3,000 per test," and Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City proves to be another example of big-business, and pharmaceuticals, attempt, and success, at manipulating and profiting from the lives of billions.
Image: "DNA" by Metalhead__1993 on Photobucket courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.Tweet