Target: The Supreme Court Justices
Goal: Lower the cost of genetic testing
The Supreme Court recently ruled that human genes may not be patented. The decision will likely reduce the cost of genetic testing for some health risks. Please sign this petition and support the Supreme Court Justices’ decision the act of separating a gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an invention to be profited from.
The case of the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics questioned whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that cannot be patented, or “human-made inventions” eligible for patent protection. The case was spurred when Myriad discovered the precise location and sequence of genes that significantly increases the risk of cancer. Once Myriad knew the location of the genes that mutated into cancer, the company blocked others from conducting tests based on its discovery. In doing so, Myriad had solidified its position as the only entity providing this specific genetic test.
The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that human genes which are merely discovered, rather than created, may not be patented. According to the New York Times, “After the ruling, at least three companies and two university labs said that they would begin offering genetic testing in the field of breast cancer.” The gene in question is the same one that gained public attention after actress Angelina Jolie revealed that she had had a preventive double mastectomy after learning the results of her genetic tests. The $3,000 price of that test was partly a product of Myriad’s patent, thereby putting it out of reach for many women. Due to the ruling, that price should come down significantly as competitors start to offer their own tests.
Please sign this petition and support the justices of the Supreme Court in their decision to bar patenting human genes. The ruling will have an immediate impact on peoples’ health by lowering the cost of this life altering genetic test.
Dear Supreme Court Justices,
Your unanimous ruling in the case of the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics was made based on improving peoples’ health and the advancement of genetic testing, rather than allowing companies to profit from naturally occurring human genes. I am writing to support your decision and thank you for making this landmark ruling.
Myriad’s discovery of the location and sequence of genes that increases the risk of cancer enabled the company to develop tests that detect the mutations, and warn patients of their susceptibility. Myriad did not invent something, they discovered something. Despite that, they blocked other companies from conducting tests based on their discovery, thereby preventing patients from accessing the test. By solidifying their status as the only entity providing this particular test, they were able to charge whatever they wanted, often times upwards of $3,000. Myriad’s ownership of the discovery prompted other companies to file patient infringement suits against them.
Your landmark decision will not only make the test more accessible for more people, but will also impact how genetic research will progress going forward. Companies are still able to profit on the methods used to isolate and identify naturally occurring genes as well as any new applications of the knowledge gained from genetic research. The decision is fair and limits profitability in favor of public health.
[Your Name Here]
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