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Landmark US ruling on gene patents

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The US Supreme Court’s ruling that human genes cannot be patented provides a clear precedent for the Australian Government to change the Patents Act, Cancer Council Australia said today. Cancer Council CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said the ruling – on the fundamental premise that the genetic materials were not inventions – provided long-awaited clarity for Australian policy makers.

“This is a welcome decision that addresses the issue of commercial monopolies over genetic mutations that are vital to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment,” Professor Olver said.

“If there had been greater clarity on the issue back in 2008, the Australian licensee for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents would not have been able to demand public laboratories cease conducting the tests.

“Eventually the patent enforcement claim was withdrawn, but there was, and still is, nothing in Australian law to prevent commercial interests trying to monopolise the use of genetic materials.

“The US Supreme Court’s ruling paves the way for Australia’s federal parliament to change the Patents Act and clarify that human genetic materials are not inventions and are not patentable.”

“We welcome innovation in medical research, which should rewarded by a robust patents system. However, discovery and isolating genetic material is not innovation.”

“The US Supreme Court’s decision is a landmark ruling that provides a clear precedent for Australia.”

(Source: Cancer Council Australia)

More information

Cancer  For more information on cancer, including breast, prostate, kidney and stomach cancer, see Cancer: Overview.

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Posted On: 14 June, 2013
Modified On: 16 September, 2014


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