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Friday, 14 June 2013

Human genes can not be patented

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that companies can not patent human genes and stop others researching specific genes or developing tests.

Why on earth was the patenting of human genes permitted?  How could one company be allowed to 'own' a human gene and dictate what tests and research could be done with that gene.  Whether or not you agree with Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy because she is a carrier of one of the BCRA genes, the announcement came at a critical time to bring the cost of BCRA testing to the forefront of the press.  I don't know if this was intentional, but I think it must have made millions aware of this situation.  I don't deny any company the right to make a decent profit but some have taken this to obscene lengths.  In the case of the Banks they have had their snouts in the trough so long they don't seem to have any concept of what are fair profits and ethical practices.

Do some companies even comprehend that there are profits to be made, and extortionate profits to be made?  Value for money seems to be a concept that is foreign to them because they only value that they can see is profit for themselves and not value for the customer.

Health is a fundamental human right.  It is one that can not be guaranteed, and it is not one that can be possible for all people, but just think where medicine would be now if previous generations of  researchers and companies had taken a similar path to so many today.  Sadly many of the biggest advances in treatments come as a result of war, as with plastic surgery in WW2 with improvements in the treatment of those badly burned, especially in the RAF.  They came to realise that those who healed better were those who had been shot down over the sea, and that sea water had something to do with this healing process.  What would the tucked and tightened of today do if those who had discovered this had patented it? 

But not all of those who take out a patent do it to extract every last penny from their products.  In an interview I saw on the internet there was one lady (can't find it now) who had a royalty cheque of about $2.70 the previous year for the genes she had patented, and such people only have to do this so they can be protected them for others to research for better treatments.

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