After US Victory, Breast Cancer Patients Take The Anti-Gene Patent Fight To Australia

from the don't-patent-our-DNA dept

As you hopefully remember, a few months back, a US court ruled that gene patents were not valid, after specifically dealing with a challenge, brought by the ACLU and some cancer patients, about a patent held by Myriad Genetics on the process of identifying BRCA1 and BRCA2, two genes that indicate susceptibility to breast cancer. While there will still likely be years of appeals before this gets anywhere in the US, it looks like a very similar fight is about to start down in Australia. Glyn Moody points us to the news that a similar lawsuit has been filed down under.

The difference here may be that, in Australia, Myriad worked out a deal with a local company, and that company has "gifted" the patent to various healthcare institutions for no royalty, meaning that the fact pattern is a bit different (in the US, if you wanted the test, you had to go to Myriad... or... Myriad). Of course, last year we had mentioned that Australian politicians were already discussing the possibility of outlawing gene patents -- so, potentially the regulatory process could make the judicial process here moot.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Semi-Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 6:51am

    It is a shame that some people/companies will do just about anything for the almighty dollar. Personally, I long for a time when common sense trumps greed.

     

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    cc (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 6:57am

    Typo in par 2: "The --different-- here may be that"

    Sorry 8)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 6:59am

    There is always an argument that allowing patents increases profitability, which increases funding for R&D. Perhaps any company that patents such an important gene sequence should be compelled to lease it to other companies at a reasonable price. Its not like they couldn't afford to pay.

    Unfortunately, taking the profit out of genetic research will stop most genetic research. That is just the way of the world.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:12am

      Re:

      "Unfortunately, taking the profit out of genetic research will stop most genetic research. That is just the way of the world."

      Absolutely wrong. Most genetic research is done by universities, and medical clinics. The brilliant ideas evolve there then move to the corporte world.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:14am

      Re:

      "Unfortunately, taking the profit out of genetic research will stop most genetic research. That is just the way of the world."
      Because there are no such things as government research, non profit organizations, or fund drives to cure things like cancer.

       

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        Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:33am

        Re: Re:

        Which brings me to the wierd conclusion I drew some time ago: as much as I hate my government, and as bad as it is at so many things, health and wellness might be one of those areas where they ought to be in control.

        What if ALL healthcare and health research was funded and maintained by the government? What if there was a rule in America that disallowed profiting of any kind from true health related endeavors?

        Disclaimer: I haven't fully thought this through, and it might be hopelessly ignorant and wrong....

         

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          John Doe, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't know my history but I imagine Russia tried that. Not sure it worked. Does seem some middle ground could work though.

           

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 8:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Kind of different in that case, I would think, in that the state tried to take ownership of EVERYTHING. Ultimately, what may have killed the Soviet Union was it being bogged down with all the responsibilities that would have been better left to private industry.

            Perhaps the middle ground could be a very limited and clear definition of what a government/nation should socialize....

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 8:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You really want to go hat-in-hand to a government flunky and beg for a test that might save your life?

              flunky: So sorry, we have spent all of our allocated funds on sex change operations for unionized civil servants in the San Fransisco accounting office. Come back next quarter and remember to fill out your application in triplicate. That is if you are not dead yet....

               

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            PaulT (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Does seem some middle ground could work though."

            Works in every other civilised country in the world with regard to healthcare (yes, to varying degrees of success).

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:23am

      Re:

      The problem with these patents are not because they created something, it's because they found something. The current patents are the sames as me going to Montana and stating I want a patent on the state because I found it. The first patent on genes was originally made for something that was actually created in a lab, but the courts let companies take things a step further and allowed them to patent things created by GOD. So if they found the Gene that makes your eyeball green, they got a patent on it even though there may be 20,000 people walking around with that gene in their head already.

       

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    John Doe, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:15am

    I am going to patent my genes

    I have filed a patent on my genes. That means nobody else can copy it, not even for a DNA test! But wait, what about my twin brother; he already has a copy? I guess the only choice I have is to sue him and have him surrender his genes or pay me a royalty.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 8:27am

    I want to laugh a bit, where are those guys defending patents?

    Cause I want to hear them say that it is moral to exploit human suffering for profits.

     

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    Leslie, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 9:34am

    LoL @ "patent things created by GOD" Nice one. Honestly, I don't understand how they could patent a gene. It's not like you can control what genes you can have when you were born. Or is that what they are trying to do. Create a super baby with super genes and such!
    Anyway, if it's for health care research, if it could save hundreds of lives, may it could really help them in some way.

     

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    Vic B (profile), Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    No need for government

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a proud liberal and strongly believe that government has a necessary place in overseeing the affairs of economy and society. But government doesn't need to be where is doesn't have to be.
    Research undertaken by private enterprise should provide for fair profit. Let's say...25% return on investment? After that, after that, government should require that the fruit of research go into public domain for others to build on or profit from.

     

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    Gena777, Jun 29th, 2010 @ 9:32pm

    Myriad appeal

    The defendant in Myriad's filed an appeal, I believe ... after Bilski, look for this to be one of the most-followed patent litigation cases of recent years.

     

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