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Analyzing Annals: Business and Ethics in Medical Research: Are Human Genes Patentable?

This commentary reviews the events leading toward the Supreme Court decision regarding Myriad Genetics patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Those developing molecular diagnostics will have to comport with a new rule for U.S. patent jurisprudence: Yes, complementary DNA can be patented, but not genomic DNA.

Use this article to consider the following:

  • Do you think genes should be patentable?
  • Why should they be? Could it help promote research and development that would otherwise be too costly?
  • Why shouldn’t they be? Can someone really "own" a human gene? If they do, how might that affect access to tests and treatments for some patients?
  • Should we as the medical profession take a stand on such issues?

Back to August 2013 Issue of IMpact

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