NSGC Releases Statement on Gene Patenting

STATEMENT FROM NATIONAL SOCIETY OF GENETIC COUNSELORS REGARDING GENE PATENTING
MArch 2010

The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) released a statement in light of the decision by Judge Robert W. Sweet of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in the case of Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. United States Patent and Trademark Office, et al:, holding that Myriad Genetics’ patent claims over the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are invalid

The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) supports an individual’s access to medical technology and services. NSGC believes that patent holders granting exclusive licenses on human nucleic acid sequences will hinder the development and cost-effectiveness of genetic testing, particularly when the analysis of multiple genes or the entire genome is necessary to assess the risk or existence of disease.

NSGC supports government policy that encourages open and unfettered access to human nucleic acid sequences to promote the development of personalized medicine services that will benefit the public.

“The patentability of genes raises concerns over patient access to genetic testing, especially as the simultaneous testing of multiple genes increases, and we advance toward whole-genome sequencing,” said Elizabeth Kearney, NSGC President. “Ultimately, patients will suffer if patent holders issue exclusive licenses that are restrictive and/or costly, therefore hindering the development of genetic tests. As the courts continue to evaluate the legality of human gene patents throughout the upcoming appeals process, NSGC encourages current patent holders to provide sensible license agreements that will improve future health care quality.”

NSGC recommends that patients meet with a genetic counselor before undergoing genetic testing and throughout the testing process. A genetic counselor can help you determine if a genetic test is available and appropriate for you and your particular situation. Once you have your test results, a genetic counselor can help you understand what the results mean for your health, potential risk for others in your family and your options for next steps. To find a genetic counselor in your area, go to www.nsgc.org.

About the National Society of Genetic Counselors

NSGC is the leading voice, authority and advocate for the genetic counseling profession, representing more than 3,000 health professionals. The organization is committed to ensuring that the public has access to genetic counseling and genetic testing. For more information, visit www.nsgc.org.

NSGC Media Contact:
Veronica Jackson
Public Communications Inc.
vjackson@pcipr.com
312-558-1770

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