The American Medical Association and five other medical societies recently filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in support of a lower federal court ruling that invalidated patents held by Myriad Genetics on two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

The associations contend that human genes should not be considered property and enabling the patenting of genes will harm opportunities for scientific research and medical care because research on specific genes could be limited.

"Genetic information is relevant to determining which disease a patient might be suffering from and which medication might benefit or harm that patient," according to the amicus brief. "The patent system should not interfere with such decisions, and if properly implemented it would not do so."

Gene patents are profoundly different from other patents, the medical societies argue. "They limit access to products of nature, laws of nature and information about those natural phenomena," the brief argues. "They also interfere with physicians' use of abstract ideas and mental steps. This conflicts with long-standing principles of scientific and medical ethics that the sharing of natural scientific and medical information is a basic necessity for further advances in science, technology and medical care."

Joining the AMA in filing the brief were the American Society of Human Genetics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Embryology and the Medical Society of the State of New York. For a copy of the amicus brief, click here.

--Joseph Goedert

 

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