The decision was applauded by many researchers and drew speculation that it could likely boost patient care. Meanwhile, the stock of Myriad Genetics tumbled after the court's finding invalidated the company's hold on testing for two breast cancer genes.
The Wall Street Journal: Justices Strike Down Gene Patents
The Supreme Court unanimously held Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, even when isolated from the body, a ruling expected to quickly expand access to genetic testing while potentially allowing inventors to retain rights to artificially created DNA. The decision marked the latest step in the court's decade long march to toughen the requirements for patents. The justices repeatedly have declared that 21st-century innovation depends less on locking up intellectual-property rights than on expanding access to discoveries in order to spur further progress (Bravin and Kendall, 6/13).
The New York Times: Justices, 9-0, Bar Patenting Human Genes
The decision is likely to reduce the cost of genetic testing for some health risks, and it may discourage investment in some forms of genetic research (Liptak, 6/13).
Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Rejects Gene Patents
The Supreme Court ruled that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented and held for profit, a decision that medical experts said will lead to more genetic testing for cancers and other diseases and to lower costs for patients. In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the nine justices declared that human genes are not an invention, so they cannot be claimed as a type of private property (Savage, 6 14).
Politico: Supreme Court Rules Genes Can't Be Patented
The court did uphold patents for a type of synthetic DNA called complementary or cDNA, which is widely used in commercial biotechnology. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, praised the opinion (Norman, 6/13).
The New York Times: After Patent Ruling, Availability Of Gene Tests Could Broaden
Almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruled that human genes could not be patented, several laboratories announced they, too, would begin offering genetic testing for breast cancer risk, making it likely that that test and others could become more affordable and more widely available. The ruling in effect ends a nearly two-decade monopoly by Myriad Genetics, the company at the center of the case (Pollack, 6/13).
Reuters: U.S. Top Court Bars Patents On Human Genes Unless Synthetic
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday prohibited patents on naturally occurring human genes but allowed legal protections on synthetically produced genetic material in a compromise ruling hailed as a partial victory for patients and the biotechnology industry. The ruling by the nine justices, the first of its kind for the top U.S. court, buttressed important patent protections relied upon by biotechnology companies while making it clear that genes extracted from the human body cannot be patented (Hurley, 6/14).
Boston Globe: No Patenting Of Genes, Justices Rule
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that human genes are "a product of nature" and cannot be patented, a landmark decision that scientists said could remove impediments to research and enhance patients' ability to learn the disease risks that lurk in their DNA (Johnson and Weisman, 6/13).
CBS News: Supreme Court's Gene Patent Ruling Could Boost Patient Care, Experts Say
The Supreme Court's ruling that human genes cannot be patented has been met with excitement from doctors over the implications for patient health. Other experts, however, questioned whether there will be a widespread impact (Jaslow, 6/13).
Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court Ruling A Game Changer For Patients? Doctors Weigh In
The court's 9-0 decision in the case involving the Utah-based Myriad Genetics was welcome news to Grody as well as other doctors and genetic counselors concerned about future research and genetic counselors who said they've had their hands tied by the company's high prices and tough patent enforcement. "I'm very happy," said Raluca Kurz, a certified genetic counselor with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "I think we've all been waiting for this to happen for a long time" (Khan, 6/13).
Baltimore Sun: Ban On Patenting DNA Cheers Researchers
Researchers hailed the Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that bans the patenting of human DNA, saying it would expand access to genetic testing for disease at lower cost to patients. In a unanimous decision, the justices said Myriad Genetics did not have exclusive rights to the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes that are linked to significantly greater risk for breast cancer and thus should not be the only company allowed to test for it. "Myriad did not create anything," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for his fellow justices. "To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention" (Marbella, 6/13).
WBUR: Here & Now: Reactions From Both Sides On Gene Patent Ruling (Audio)
The high court's unanimous judgment reverses three decades of patent awards by government officials. It throws out patents held by Salt Lake City-based Myriad Genetics Inc. on an increasingly popular breast cancer test brought into the public eye recently by actress Angelina Jolie's revelation that she had a double mastectomy because of one of the genes involved in this case (6/13).
Modern Healthcare: Myriad Stock Falls As Competitors Offer Lower Prices For Gene Testing
Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Myriad Genetics' monopoly on testing for two breast cancer genes, the company's stock went tumbling as competitors announced plans to offer the same services at lower prices (Carlson, 6/13).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.