October 10, 2013 @ 5:30 pm
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Moot Court Room
332 E. 1400 S. Salt Lake City
Please join the ACLU of Utah, the Center for Law & Biomedical Studies at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, and The University of Utah College of Nursing for a special evening with Sandra S. Park, a Senior Staff Attorney for the national ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, and a lead litigator in the recent case against gene patenting before the U.S. Supreme Court, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics.
Sandra S. Park is a Senior Staff Attorney in the National ACLU Women’s Rights Project. At the WRP, Sandra engages in litigation, policy advocacy, and public education at the national, state, and local levels to advance the rights and civil liberties of women and girts. She represented twenty medical organizations, geneticists, and patients in a groundbreaking lawsuit challenging patents granted on two human genes related to breast and ovarian cancer.
On June 13, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously invalidated patents on two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of researchers, genetic counselors, patients, breast cancer and women’s health groups, and medical professional associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory professionals.
The patents allowed a Utah company, Myriad Genetics, to control access to the genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, thereby giving them the right to limit others from doing research or diagnostic testing of the genes, which can be crucial for individuals making important medical decisions. The patents also allowed Myriad to set the terms and cost of testing and made it difficult for women to access alternate tests or get a comprehensive second opinion about their results.
The court found that the patents on human genes are invalid, which represents a major shift in patent law and overturns current Patent Office policy. The court also found that patents on complementary DNA, or cDNA, are patent-eligible. Scientists can provide genetic testing without relying on cDNA. Thus, the court’s ruling lifted the patent obstacle to offering genetic diagnostic testing.