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Genetic Analysis is Already a Commodity Product

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Interesting opinion piece rebutting an open letter from Peter Meldrum, CEO of Myriad, in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision on the patentability of BRCA1/BRCA2.

Myriad Genetics CEO Claims He Owns Your Genes – Forbes.

Patents support the public good when the investments required to bring an advancement into the market are high enough that protection allows developers to recoup their costs, and so encourage investments in new, speculative technologies.

As the required investment to advance a technology decreases, so does the ability of a patent to support the public good.

Regardless of the moral implications of gene patenting, the development costs of mutation tests are likely too low at this point for the public good to be served by patenting of those mutations, which will make it difficult for such patenting to continue. Analysis of genetic mutations is just too easy, and the clinical data validating their relevance is just too available.

As genetic testing increasingly becomes a commodity product, where differentiation is based on customer service and price, companies like In Vitae look more like the future.

But what about tests that measure complicated analytes such as protein panels, and/or which require large clinical studies for validation? What role do patents play in the commercialization of such products?