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We'd Love to Be a Fly on Mary-Claire King's Wall Right Now

Whoo-whee, are people agog with the ACLU lawsuit against Myriad Genetics. (For news coverage, check out our sister publications GenomeWeb Daily News and Pharmacogenomics Reporter.) In the blogosphere, there's not much love lost for Myriad, which holds the patent for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, preventing other labs from testing for mutations on those genes.

At Gene Expression, p-ter writes that "in the battle of public opinion, there's no way Myriad can come out of this looking good. ... It's not for nothing that Myriad is considered among the most hated diagnostics companies."

Stephen Albainy-Jenei at Patent Baristas says that "the issue is not that Myriad has a patent and is keeping [it] withheld from patients. The issue is that Myriad is charging as much as $3,000 a test, possibly keeping some women from seeking preventative genetic testing."

Meanwhile, Arthur Caplan has a commentary at MSNBC in which he predicts that Myriad will win the case, at least in part because "the ACLU lawsuit has direct implications for every patent on a gene sequence and there are loads of those. ... If Myriad loses, the legal foundation for much of the drug business in the United States and, thus, the whole world would crumble." Still, he contends that the lawsuit might have other important implications. "Patent offices and courts in the U.S. and other countries have been granting patents on genes without thinking hard enough about the social and health implications of doing so," he writes, suggesting that this case may help bring some change in that arena.

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