AAPS Applauds Supreme Court's Respect for Medical Innovation

Jun 13, 2013, 16:57 ET from Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

TUCSON, Ariz., June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS) applauds the U.S. Supreme Court for declining to issue a sweeping ruling today against the patentability of DNA material in Ass'n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., Sup. Ct. No. 12-398. Instead, the Supreme Court acknowledged the immense value of patents to encourage medical innovation, and fully upheld the patentability of cDNA, which is synthetic DNA similar to what is in nature. In today's decision, the Supreme Court rejected an attempt for a broad ruling against patents for DNA material.

The Court expressly emphasized the narrow scope of its ruling, which concerned patents related to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes found to be associated with higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancer in women. "This case does not involve patents on new applications of knowledge about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes," the Court observed. Accordingly, innovative applications concerning the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes remain fully patentable after today's ruling. The Court also held that "the patentability of DNA in which the order of the naturally occurring nucleotides has been altered" remains unaffected by this decision.

The Court merely ruled that isolated copies of human DNA, which are identical to what is found in nature, are not patentable. But "synthetically created DNA known as complementary DNA (cDNA), which contains the same protein-coding information found in a segment of natural DNA but omits portions within the DNA segment that do not code for proteins" remains fully patentable.

AAPS filed an amicus brief in this case urging the Court to recognize the importance of private property rights to encourage invention and development of lifesaving medical advances.

Adult stem cell discoveries and developments have occurred only because of private investment incentivized by patents. Government rarely, if ever, invents something new and useful, and the Obama Administration has been particularly hostile to adult stem cell work. If patents were excluded, then private investment would dry up, leaving government as the primary backer of medical research. Yet much of government-controlled research concerning DNA, notably in sequencing the human genome, has been vastly more expensive and less productive than private research that is encouraged by patents, states AAPS.

Millions of women have benefited from the work of Myriad Genetics, the defendant in this case. While some complain about the high cost of testing for these genes, more encouragement of investment by protecting private property for innovative work—and reduction of the role of third-party payers—are the best ways to bring costs down, AAPS believes.

AAPS took a stand opposite that of the American Medical Association (AMA), which opposed property rights in the DNA work in this case while the AMA makes tens of millions of dollars annually from its copyright on the CPT coding system doctors are forced to use.

AAPS, which was founded in 1943, is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties.

SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)