Abolishment of Gene Patenting
The very concept of gene patenting sounds complex but it is not so difficult to understand once you grasp the basics. The US federal district court, during the first week of April, 2010, passed a landmark ruling that prohibited gene patenting. Judge Robert Sweet issued the ruling in response to a case filed against the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for granting exclusive rights of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to Myriad Genetics. These human genes are associated with curing breast and ovarian cancer. We all know how serious this is now, don’t we? The very word ‘cancer’ leaps out at us, right?
Legal Rationale behind Nullifying Gene Patenting
Patents are, in general, a sensible idea as it encourages investment in fairly unusual domains. By enabling private companies to patent genes, it is possible to ensure greater investment in medical research. This may prove invaluable in finding cure to several terminal diseases and conditions.
On the other hand, gene patenting may act as a barrier to innovation, barring other researchers, with more intellectual or financial capacity, from finding a solution. The federal court, keeping this drawback in mind, stated that gene patenting poses grave threat to civil liberties of individuals. By granting patents on genes the government is basically monopolizing the patent-holders, with exclusive access to all information contained within the genes. Consequently, if a doctor examines these specific genes for medical purposes, s/he could be sued for patent infringement. This may limit an individual from receiving adequate medical assistance. Hence, Judge Robert Sweet’s ruling may be regarded as a giant step forward for scientific freedom and health.
Gene Patenting: Finding the Middle Ground
Across the world, patent laws have been abused on several instances for creating monopolies. We talk about it but when it comes to following the right practices, there seem to be gaps.
Are you wondering:
- How do we set limits on gene patenting so as to facilitate best research and medical practices?
- What can the world’s best hospitals, doctors and scientists do differently to make this happen?
- How can courts add more value and contribute to the whole process