Genetics Patents May Be Hazordous to Our Health
You do not own your own body according to a recent study published on March 25, 2013 in the journal Genome Medicine. The results from the study indicates that every gene in your body is owned by big pharmaceutical companies through a vast series of patents some of which have nothing to do with humans. For some, you are literally just a cow they can milk for profits and legally cannot say no to them.
Over 91% of your body is owned by just one company!
Led by Dr. Christopher E. Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College and Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, the research team examined two types of patented DNA to see how many genes were affected. They discovered that every known human genome was covered not just by one patent but often three or more by many different unrelated companies. Many of these patents and companies were not even related to human health. One patent included over 91% of the human genome.
“If these patents are enforced, our genomic liberty is lost,” noted Dr. Mason who is an assistant professor of physiology and biophysics. He went on to mention that your physician would need to buy licenses to your genes in order to look at them or face patent infringement. Since each gene is own by multiple companies, your physician would need to get a separate license from each company just to make sure nothing is left out.
Genetics is the future of medicine, but it shouldn’t be like this.
Genetics could lead us into a future where most diseases are curable and personalized medicine is the norm. My doctor could look at my genes and craft solutions based on how my body actually works instead of the one-size-fits-all solutions we have today.However; we will never reach this medical utopia if the owners of these patents decided to use them. Right now, they have the power to choose who lives and who dies, leading to every medical nightmare imaginable.
Fortunately, there is hope. The U. S. Supreme Court began reviewing threats from genetic patents on April 15 in order to set things right.. Right now, genes can be patented if they provide useful applications such as diagnostic tests or medicines.
The Court has an opportunity to set the balance between medical goodwill and the protections awarded to investors. Hopefully, the Court will side with good medicine. Leaving such potential in the control of so few is a disaster waiting to happen. This goes beyond forcing us t have custom babies for a price.