Myriad Genetics, the Supreme Court, Gene Patents, and Saving Lives
We’re in the business of saving lives. That’s what really matters to me, and to the very bright people who work with me at Myriad.
We offer testing for patients who, based on their family history, are concerned they are at increased genetic risk for cancer. If a woman learns from our test that she faces a greater threat of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, she can take action to protect herself and reduce her risk. If she tests negative, that peace of mind can be very valuable. (Click Here for more information on BRACAnalysis Testing)
We are now arguing before the Supreme Court in favor of strong patents. Without the patents, our work would not have been possible. We would not have been able to raise the funds necessary to decode the genes, design and deliver the tests, interpret the results, and help patients.
There are many misconceptions about what genetic companies actually do. We did not patent the genes in your body, and neither does any other company. That’s not possible under U.S. patent law. Instead, we patented synthetic molecules based on the genes that were created in the lab in order to deliver life-saving tests to patients. Those molecules are not found in the human body and are different from the DNA found in cells.
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More than one million patients have benefited from our tests for hereditary breast, colon, uterine and ovarian cancer.
We’ve also done extensive clinical studies so that insurance companies have the information they need. Because of those studies, 95 percent of the appropriate patients are covered by insurance and the average out-of-pocket cost for the test is about $100. And for patients who cannot afford it, we make tests available for free. In fact, more than 5,000 women have received free testing in the last three years.
In exchange, we think it is right for a company to be able to own its discoveries, earn back its investment, and make a reasonable profit. The Supreme Court case could have broad implications for the biopharmaceutical, animal health and agricultural industries, and the development of cutting-edge products and services are of enormous benefit to society. Countless companies and investors have risked billions of dollars to research and develop scientific advances under the promise of strong patent protection.
The patent system gives inventors a limited number of years as stewards over what that they create. We’ve been excellent stewards and we’re continually working on new and better products using the capital generated from our patented products.
Which brings me back to where I began. Our top priority is patients. It is very gratifying to hear from people who have lived longer, healthier lives because of our work. That work was only possible because of the patents that we are now defending in court.
Pete Meldrum President and CEO Myriad Genetics, Inc.