KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court Limits Patents On Diagnostic Medical Tests

The justices rule that two patents are invalid because they cover a natural phenomenon.

Bloomberg: Diagnostic Medical-Test Patents Limited By U.S. High Court
The U.S. Supreme Court put new limits on the availability of patents for diagnostic medical tests, ruling in favor of the Mayo Clinic in a case that will shape the growing field of personalized health care. The justices today said two patents owned by Nestle SA (NESN)'s Prometheus unit are invalid because they cover a natural phenomenon. Prometheus argued that the patents concerned an application of a law of nature, not the law itself (Stohr, 3/20).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Court Backs Mayo In Patent Case
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the Mayo Clinic did not violate patent protections by formulating its own version of a diagnostic test developed by another company, essentially determining that a patent can't be applied to a medical or scientific idea that relies too heavily on the laws of nature. The point of contention was a test that allows doctors to measure how individuals absorb a particular type of medicine (Spencer, 3/20).

In other news --

The New York Times: Generic Drugs Prove Resistant To Damage Suits
Across the country, dozens of lawsuits against generic pharmaceutical companies are being dismissed because of a Supreme Court decision last year that said the companies did not have control over what their labels said and therefore could not be sued for failing to alert patients about the risks of taking their drugs. Now, what once seemed like a trivial detail -- whether to take a generic or brand-name drug -- has become the deciding factor in whether a patient can seek legal recourse from a drug company (Thomas, 3/20).

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