BRCA Wars Underway; Senator Wants NIH Action

See on Scoop.itAdvocacy Action & Issues in Cancer

“The goal of the letter by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH, was to prod the federal government into taking action to “ensure access to affordable life-saving diagnostic tests for breast and ovarian cancer” according to a press statement.

Sen. Leahy urged the NIH to exercise an obscure federally mandated right to force Myriad “to license the patent on reasonable terms” to other parties because Myriad’s patented products had originally been developed with federal funds. In other words, Sen. Leahy wants to optimize the number of American women who can access the test and he sees cost as a potential block to that aspiration.

The senator’s letter came days after Myriad filed lawsuits against 2 companies that began offering BRCA testing at substantially lower costs. The suits allege that the competitors are infringing on specific Myriad patents that are distinct from those invalidated by the US Supreme Court in June, and that the competition is now unfairly forcing testing prices down, with the anticipated result that “Myriad will lose significant amounts of revenue.”

They have never had competition in their space.

One of the lawsuits is against Ambry Genetics (Aliso Viejo, California). A spokesperson for Ambry told Medscape Medical News that the lawsuit is without merit. “They have never had competition in their space,” said Ardy Arianpour, MBA, senior vice president of business development at Ambry, about Myriad’s motivations.

Myriad made its own timely announcement on July 15, also tackling the issue of BRCA testing cost and accessibility.

Heather Swift‘s insight:

This is a great article about Myriad and the fact that Senator Leahy is urging the NIH to enforce "an obscure federally madated right" that forces Myriad "to license the patent on reasonable terms." Let’s hope Myriad gets it and stops creating all of these expensive lawsuits instead of reseraching more about genetic tests that will help those with breast cancer understand what their genetic risks are.

Also this article is free, but you have to register with Medscape in order to read the whole article.

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