No Corporation Should Own Your Genes: Demand Release Of Gene Patents

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Target: U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

Goal: Release patent on genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer

Who owns your genes? Apparently Myriad Genetics, Inc. does. The Supreme Court has ordered a U.S. Appeals Court to review a previous ruling allowing Myriad Genetics to maintain its patents on two genes which reveal increased risk for ovarian and breast cancer. The panel ruled narrowly in favor of Myriad the first time around; this must not be allowed to occur a second time.

Under current U.S. patent law, these genetic patents allow Myriad to monopolize the genetic tests for these genes, setting the cost at whim and preventing any other researchers or laboratories access to this potentially life-saving knowledge. Determining genetic risk is critical in assessing possible cancer disposition and treatment of patients. No research by any other entity in the U.S. can be undertaken without soon being interrupted by a prompt cease-and-desist letter courtesy of Myriad Genetics.

Pure science is characterized not by social or fiscal pressures but by a stanch proclivity to prove and disprove. Myriad’s patents obviate fundamental scientific progress by isolating genetic research within its thickening walls of capital. Outside of the U.S., a French team actually discovered some flaws in Myriad’s genetic tests which missed some breast cancers. Suppressing such discoveries, which move science forward and save lives (and reduce Myriad’s economic gain), has become the ideal by which Myriad seems to aspire.

Patients have no choice but to pay the $4,000 charged by Myriad for a test, and then hope that Myriad accepts their insurance coverage, if they even have any. Corporate ownership over the right to one’s body may sound eerily similar to a dystopian sci-fi reality, and yet this is the reality many are now faced with. Such cutthroat capitalism is the name of the game for large corporations and, in this case, the game has become a profit-driven monopoly more important than the value of human life.

Chances are, you or a loved one has been touched by cancer in some way. If not, who knows what genetic predisposition test could save your life one day? If you believe that access to your genes is your right, and not that of a major corporation, sign this petition demanding that the courts order Myriad Genetics, Inc. to release its gene patents immediately.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear U.S. Court of Appeals Federal Circuit,

I am writing out of concern for the alarming patent holdings of Myriad Genetics, Inc. The Supreme Court has ordered a review of a previous ruling which allowed Myriad to maintain its patents on genes known to reveal disposition for ovarian and breast cancer. It is time to stop giving corporations power over people’s most sovereign entity: their bodies.

Myriad wields its patent over patients and the scientific community, extracting all the money it can from dying patients and preventing other researchers from examining their tests or discovering more efficient ones. A patient should not have to pay $4,000 for a genetic test. A patient should have the option for a second opinion. A patient should have a right to know his or her body more than a corporation should have the right to monopolize this information.

These patents must be released so that a greater scientific community can do what it does best: approach truth in the service of all. End Myriad’s exploitation of the medical system and demand release of these gene patents.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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  • Marianne Oelman
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