Gene Patenting killing health research?

Intellectual Property Watch has been able to see the first draft of the report that the US Health and Human Resources Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics has produced, and has rightly commented on it. The report questions the benefits of patenting genes in the development of research and states that:

“although patents offer an incentive to companies to conduct research and develop genetic diagnostics, exclusive rights are not needed to advance the development of most genetic tests.”

The critic goes further and questions whether patented genes and thus the grant of monopoly in a specific area stiffen competition and lower general quality. Tom Dilenge, general counsel and vice president for legal and intellectual property at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (“BIO”), spoke in defense claiming that what makes research and development possible is the patenting system.
I agree with the Advisory Committee that US patent system should include and apply extensively an exemption from liability for infringement of gene patents when the patented gene is used for patient care purposes. The world of biotechnology has developed too fast and proprietorship over genes and their modifications are raising many questions and concerns. If you are interested in following this debate, you can find more information following this link http://oba.od.nih.gov/SACGHS/

Post written by Francesca Re Manning, consultant to CAS-IP

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One response to “Gene Patenting killing health research?

  1. It is interesting that the negative reports on the effects of patenting on patient access appear to be contrary to the case studies in the report.

    To quote the key findings:

    “Based on its review of the literature, case studies, and review of international policies regarding gene patents, SACGHS found little in the way of broad or consistent evidence that indicates either positive or negative effects of gene patents on patient access to diagnostic tests.”

    So what’s the fuss about?

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