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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Patenting Your Disease

From Wikipedia
The geniuses at the U. S. District Court of Appeals have decided that a gene removed from your body can be patented.

The decision, which overturns this one, involves two genes: BRCA 1 and 2.  The presence of these gene's can serve as a (partial) indicator of a woman's chances for breast and/or ovarian cancer.  (And, according to yesterday's post, her potential for employment as well, I suppose.)

A company called Myriad Genetics has developed a test which uses these genes.  They have also filed for patents on this process meaning that anyone else who attempts to examine these genes for the purpose of helping a woman determine her risk of cancer would be violating their patent.

The current court decision states (in its infinite wisdom) is that a gene removed from a human body is not the same (is different) as one that's still part of a body hence it can be patented.

Thankfully the current Administration has agreed with the ACLU and others that "the mere act of isolating something" does not make it patentable.

So imagine the consequences of this.  Little Jr has horrific symptoms of some brain rotting disease but company X owns the actual gene patent on the detection of the disease and charges $1,000,000.00 USD to allow the gene to be used to test for the disease.

What does a parent do?

No doubt they don't have the $1,000,000.00.

I suppose you could try treating for the disease without actually testing for it - but that might cause more problems.

Profiting from the misery of others.

Ultimately this and other similar cases will end up in the Supreme Court (see this) and is similar to what I wrote about here: "Patently Insane Medical Patents."

So if doctors are developing these cures I wonder if they recall their Hippocratic Oath?

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: 
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability.

(Underlines mine.)

I suppose that making a living and working for "Big Pharma" trumps all of these silly oaths and promises...

Do these doctors take their wedding vows as seriously?

How about their promises to love and take care of their children and aged parents?

How about their credit card agreements or mortgages?

Or is money and profit more important?

One has a hard time reconciling this with Medicare and Medicaid as well...

Which is more important?

Making a buck or helping someone with cancer?

Then there is always the issue of basically free alternative treatments, e.g., iodine, as I wrote about here.

But doctors (often with huge student loans) don't make money from free advice.

Now I don't know if iodine really is helpful for anything but at least I am not suggesting someone pay me to hear about it.

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