KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court DNA Ruling Leaves Questions Unanswered

Editorial boards weigh in on what Thursday's Supreme Court ruling means for medical research and for the medical industry.

Boston Globe: Ruling Against Gene Patents Is Victory For Open Research
In its unanimous ruling Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, the US Supreme Court removed a worrisome source of uncertainty hanging over the biotechnology industry. ... The landmark ruling frees up endless amounts of genetic material for the free use of science. It sets a significant precedent that will ultimately benefit researchers, business, consumers, and, most importantly, patients (6/14).

The Washington Post: After DNA Patent Ruling, Encouraging Genetic Research
No, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Thursday, genes cannot be patented, no matter how much effort a company expends in finding them. It is the right call but can’t be the last word. ... Congress should examine whether government-funded research and persisting market opportunities are enough to motivate genetic research, or whether it should offer more narrowly drawn patents, prize money or other new incentives for companies to continue sorting through the genome (6/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Gene Splitting 
"Groundbreaking, innovative, or even brilliant discovery does not by itself satisfy" the requirements of patent law, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote. Patenting the natural elements which are the "basic tools of scientific and technological work" could "'tie up' the use of such tools and thereby 'inhibit future innovation premised upon them.'" This kind of patent on the natural building block of life would have inhibited both research and investment (6/13).

The New York Times: Clarity On Patenting Nature 
The price of Myriad’s stock went up 10 percent in early trading after the court’s decision, an indication that Myriad is benefiting from its investment even as the court, properly, has safeguarded the ability of other researchers to work with the genes (6/13).

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