Private Companies Are Trying to Patent Your Genes!

August 14, 2012
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stem cellNot only that, but a federal court has now ruled that FDA can regulate your cells as drugs.

We reported in January that the US Food and Drug Administration wants to treat your body’s stem cells as drugs—cells taken from our own bodies and then re-implanted with the purpose of treating medical problems, usually to renew damaged body parts.

And now, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, a DC district court has ruled that these adult stem cells are in fact “drugs” (and therefore fall under FDA jurisdiction), even when the cells are taken from a patient and then re-inserted into him or her. In other words, the court ruled that you don’t have the right to stem cell treatment even when you’re using your own stem cells to treat your own injury!

The court’s ruling extends FDA oversight, at least in principle, into things as common as in-vitro fertilization. In other words, reproductive cells would also become “drugs” under the law.

Now a private company, Myriad Genetics, is arguing that they own the patent for two genes, BRAC1 and BRAC2, which account for most inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancer.

Women who are at high risk for inheriting breast cancer can test for mutations in these two genes. Under the Myriad gene test, called the BRACAnalysis, women who test positive have 82% higher risk of breast cancer and 44% higher risk of ovarian cancer. The results of the test are instrumental in determining a woman’s treatment options.

If Myriad’s patent claims are upheld, it means they have ownership over particular genes in the human body. They can charge whatever dollar amount they dream up to access those genes via the test—which is currently $4,000. Women concerned about their risk of breast or ovarian cancer wouldn’t be able to have anyone but Myriad look at their genes. And such a high price means a woman who might need the test the most might not be able to afford it.

The patents would keep competitors from offering tests, which restricts market competition to decrease prices, increase access, and improve the tests themselves. It would also cut off scientific research: scientists outside Myriad couldn’t study these genes without Myriad’s permission. Think of that: no new breast cancer therapies could be developed using these genes, because someone holds a patent on them and won’t give others access to them.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation filed lawsuit against Myriad, the University of Utah Research Foundation, and the US Patent and Trademark Office. They said the patent restricts scientific research and patient access to medical care, and violates the First Amendment and patent law because genes are part of nature and therefore cannot be patented.

ACLU and PPF won in the lower court, but lost on appeal in federal court. Two of the judges said genes can be patented because testing looks for distinctive chemical forms of the genes and not as they appear naturally in the body. The dissenting judge argued that “plucking a leaf from a tree does not turn it into a human-made invention.”

However, in March the Supreme Court vacated the decision. They instructed the appeals court revisit the case, and arguments will begin on July 20. ACLU will be arguing that genes are natural and therefore cannot be patented.

Dietary supplements have long been denied patent protection because they are considered natural. The same standards should apply to the pharmaceutical industry. The system shouldn’t create loopholes to allow them patent protections on our own bodies just to increase their profits and deny consumer access.

31 Responses to “Private Companies Are Trying to Patent Your Genes!”

  1. Judy Hinterlong says:

    So, if a woman gets breast cancer and is found to have one or both of these gene mutations, can she then sue Myriad for damages, claiming they caused her breast cancer? Would seem so to me if they own the genes.

       5 likes

    • Joan says:

      I like your way of thinking. This is just crazy to say the least. Just because you can do some thing does not give you the right to do it. They have gone way too far.

         0 likes

  2. Dorothy Sherman says:

    My genes should not be allowed to be patented. They are a natural substance just like my stem cells.

       3 likes

  3. Colleen says:

    Are these people left over from the Nazi Era??? This is so hideous, it is like listening to people that are so caveman mentality. With the abilities that they poses you would hope they would use it for the good of Mankind not against them!

       4 likes

  4. Aimee Rice says:

    An individual’s genes belong to them alone, and no company has the right to make a patent on that which is not theirs! This is Big Brother, Big Money, Animal Farm in our midst! Absurdity….I think the insanity of the pharmaceutical companies will never cease, unfortunately.

       4 likes

  5. Marilyn Buckley says:

    It is unlawful for the government or any other private agency to make a law or make any claim on an individual’s body or parts of a person’s body. A person’s genes are a part of their own body and therefore the property of that person. This article is another example of the government’s ridiculous sense of right and wrong. If a woman has the right over her body and has the right to kill a living person,then each person has the exclusive right to their own genes and the use of them.

       1 likes

  6. Lloyd Downs says:

    I appears that the money held by huge corporations want to own everthing, even out very own
    cells of our bodies.
    Lloyd Downs

       0 likes

  7. Sharon says:

    This takes the cake !

       0 likes

  8. Peter Heger says:

    look at the corruption of US institutions!

    I want to patent their ass and then prohibit them to shit till they wi ll explode
    it seems the only way to get rid of them

       1 likes

  9. Pegeen George says:

    I just want to know if there is a petition I can sign for this. I feel this is an invasion of my privacy to treat my own cells as drugs and to patent them. Isn’t this some form of constitutional infringement?

       0 likes

  10. Louise Esther Rothstein says:

    No matter what outfits want to monopolize other peoples’ genes…
    Or for whatever reason whoever they are may think up…

    Our genes are part of our own bodies.

    Our bodies.

    Not their own.

    No matter what they may say.

       0 likes

  11. Cheryl says:

    Processes can and should be patented but not the materials used in that process, surely. Allowing any company to won sole rights to any naturally occurring material would set a disturbing precedent. What next?

    Will some company be able lodge a patent for particles in the air we breathe or water we drink? Why not?

    If this patent request is allowed by the court what stops the company claiming breach of patent whenever any medical test is performed which involves removal of biological tissue? After all “their” genetic material would be being harvested whether or not it is being used.

       0 likes

  12. richard duley says:

    when n what,s it gonna take to stop this craziness going on. this country is indeed due for a purging from paid politicians and greed driven cos/ceos,where the btm line is there only goal for action. i mean when/what,s it gonna take for the majority to wake up. this country was founded of the people,by the people,for all the people, not just a few elite financiers w/big bucks,so their codders are always gaining value. this country is the sickest in the world, we take 50% of all drugs manufactured w/only 5% of the population,,,the allopathic community is being taught by big pharma,the fda is being run/paid for by big pharma,most aware people have no faith in their govt. anymore, we fight wars for all the wrong reasons and then deny the vets proper health care, for doing what they said was expected of them,,,when does a person go from being an asset to a laibility. social security can answer that now,,,when you try to draw on what was paid in for and the money was already spent/borrowed from by politicians for “other” special interests…in 1913 when coolidge brought into effect the fed reserve act, started us on this slippery slope. he said on his death bed, when he did that, he also sold out the interests of the american beliefs/principles, and the constitution… i,m done!!!! vietnam vet,that did his job,as required of him at that time…

       0 likes

  13. Betty says:

    these are some sick people in my book

       0 likes

  14. Natalie Mannering says:

    As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a DC district court has ruled that adult stem cells are in fact “drugs” (and therefore fall under FDA jurisdiction), even when the cells are taken from a patient and then re-inserted into him or her. In other words, the court ruled that you don’t have the right to stem cell treatment even when you’re using your own stem cells to treat your own injury!

    Dietary supplements have long been denied patent protection because they are considered natural. The same standards should apply to the pharmaceutical industry. The system shouldn’t create loopholes to allow them patent protections on our own bodies just to increase their profits and deny consumer access.

       2 likes

  15. Dea says:

    This is one of the most indecent thing I’ve ever heard! I do believe that God is scratching His head and wondering if He should have given mankind their agency! It takes a complete fool to demand money off something God created. Those ignorant scientists do not have the right to claim any person’s “genes” are their property no matter “what they discovered” because God made them and we are His “Property” every microscopic inch of us. Any “Law” person has no right giving the “ownership” of any part of us to any person, company or to the FDA! For now the FDA and the P(HARM) Companies are simply in the position of taking advantage of the poor and the weak and the sick. They have simply designated themselves “judge, jury and executioners over the minorities of this country, as far as I’m concerned. This country is going more and more in the direction of “Dictatorship” from the President right down to the lowest part of the AMA and FDA and the IRS. I hope that Mitt Romney and his crew gets elected and runs these Communists out of the country before they destroy us all!

       0 likes

  16. William Van Vechten says:

    The idea that some corporation can patent and therefore control the cells in my own body is abhorrent and insane. Has our country gone crazy? Where is your decency?

       0 likes

  17. Michael J Dorning says:

    I bet that the judge who issued that macabre ruling was Republican appointed.

       0 likes

  18. tekwyzrd says:

    Allowing a company to patent a gene due to a test for an abnormal form would be like allowing a company to patent carbon monoxide or radon because they invented a detector to test for their presence.

    I could understand patents for tests for specific forms of genes but not the genes themselves. Did Myriad Genetics create the abnormal form of the gene or expose people to some chemical or substance causing a change in the gene? If so, they should be granted a patent for the gene and be held responsible for treatment costs for those who suffer as a result of the modified gene.

       0 likes

  19. pam badger says:

    ACLU DOING SOMETHING RIGHT ?LOL WELL NOW

       0 likes

  20. Erobos Abzu Lamashtu says:

    Towards the Island of Dr. Moreau, we are all being thrust…..

       0 likes

  21. garry says:

    Ah! The MBPs(morally bankrupt predators) just won’t give up the raping of their fellow human beings; economically, medically, socially, psychologically, rights, freedoms, etc. And they have the advantage over the average American because he/she is vested in working to provide for family, is underpaid, too busy with family/ job/ children, is ignorant of the depth or prevalence of men’s evil, and do not have the interest is getting wealthy at the expense of their fellow citizens. Oh yeah! Character. The courage to live by the values in which you profess to believe.

    The MBPs work behind our backs, hire lobbyist, buy congressmen, people our regulatory agencies with their industry lackeys, commit fraud, disseminate lies, slant research results to serve their purpose and buy the researchers to give them the results they want, fund think tanks to support their greedy efforts and use any number of other evil means available to them.

    We need economic and health treason laws with teeth. The teeth to punish for crimes against humanity.
    And, since corporations are now legally considered “human individuals”, the executives and board members should be subject to and punished by these laws.

       1 likes

  22. Mary Saunders says:

    Bio-piracy is how Vandana Shiva and others have gone after some of these companies.

    “The best defense is a good offense,” on these issues.

    Suing them over and over and creating buzz on the net are things many of us can do.

    If I have donated tissue for research, is there a way to follow up on what has been done with it? Just wondering.

       0 likes

  23. Stefan Kozinski says:

    Drugs are to be made only for people’s uniquely diverse needs, and used only if those people really need them; in short, drugs are to be made for people, not people for drugs. Any Jesus fans out there? If really so, it means that you subscribe to his similar words: the Sabbath is made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.

       0 likes

  24. B. Talbert says:

    If and when these genes exist in nature and a natural body they should not be allowed to be patented. We need a new paradigm which dis-allows profit from human misery.

       0 likes

  25. Barbara says:

    This is all about the money, just like regulating our own stem cells is. The problem is that the general public is not well informed about these issues. Instead of protecting sick people who want stem cell treatment or those that need genetic testing, these decisions can mean a death sentence. Whatever happened to care and compassion in this country? Instead we are regulated to death, denied the use of our own body parts, and told that we should be happy about it because these decisions protect us.

       0 likes

  26. thomas says:

    It amazes me that christians don’t speak up about this aren’t they against people who play god or is that not politcaly correct for them to do anymore.

       0 likes

  27. Jeffery Biss says:

    Allowing a company to patent genes is unsupportable by patent law as they exist naturally and not by human intervention. A specific test to identify their presence may be patentable, but not the genes themselves. If it is ruled that they can be patented, then the ruling is wrong at its core and indicates that something is very wrong in our system.

       1 likes

  28. Ron Barrett says:

    The courts are part of the US’s industrial complex and so paid off by industry, as is our Congress. Industry is smart. So shun them all. Go over-seas for your health care. US laws are scams made up so the 99% pays all to the rich 1% parasites in our legal and industrial system. Remember Justice Roberts was a Monsanto attorney. Jokes on all us law abiders.

       0 likes

  29. Audrey Gorr says:

    This is unbelievable, I think the FDA is wrong and should not any say in what is in a human body.
    It sounds more and more like Hitler. More people should be made aware of this.

       0 likes

  30. Mary Louise Mutch says:

    I certainly do not want any of my stem cells reproduced and sold. These are what make me an individual and make you an individual. How terrible if we became more and more generic. this could very well the start of such a nightmare. Don’t even consider it, please.

       0 likes

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