NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Australian firm Genetic Technologies recently announced that it would enforce its patent rights covering diagnostic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in Australia and New Zealand, reversing its earlier strategy of allowing other labs to offer the tests.
The firm holds an exclusive license from Myriad Genetics covering the Utah-based firm’s patents for breast and ovarian cancer testing based on the BRCA markers. Genetic Technologies publicly announced in May 2003 that it would not enforce its patent rights to prevent other service providers from performing BRCA tests.
However, after spending several million dollars on creating a high-throughput molecular diagnostics lab and paying Myriad ongoing fees for the BRCA license, Genetic Technologies has decided to enforce its rights in Australia and New Zealand. The firm noted that it is now able to offer a four-week turnaround on test results compared to the average turnaround time of 11 months from certain other labs.
“Going forward, the company hopes to engage with the relevant stakeholders to affect a smooth transition that ensures patient needs are met and ultimately enhanced,” Genetic Technologies said in a statement.
According to the Australian Associated Press, Australian cancer experts are afraid Genetic Technologies’ decision will drive up the cost of a BRCA test to AUS$2,500 (US$2,400), which would limit its availability and increase research costs. Some researchers in Australia are also considering mounting a legal challenge against the firm.
Genetic Technologies officials could not be reached for comment by press time.