When you went to sleep last Sunday night, 20 percent of your genome belonged to a researcher or company. One day later, following federal district court judge Robert Sweet’s ruling, it belonged to you.
Some activists cheered the landmark decision on general principle, but for others, it was a business and medical matter. They say the end of gene patents could be a boon for patients, who will benefit from gene-testing companies competing for their business.
“They’ll have to deliver products to the marketplace faster, better and cheaper. There’s all sorts of ways to make money,” said Dan Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which pitted civil rights activists and patient groups against Myriad Genetics, a Utah provider of tests on its patented breast-cancer-risk genes. “I’m a strong conservative. I believe companies are good and competition is good.”
Myriad and its supporters, including the Biotechnology Industry Organization, had argued that gene patents were necessary. They made commercial profits possible, and potential financial rewards drove research.