Patent protection does not contribute to innovation (in gene research)

“The Committee found that the prospect of patent protection of a genetic research discovery does not play a significant role in motivating scientists to conduct genetic research. Scientists typically are driven instead by factors such as the desire to advance understanding, the hope of improving patient care through new discoveries, and concerns for their own career advancement.

Importantly, the Committee found that patents can also harm genetic research. Although the patent law requirement of disclosure and description of a claimed invention is meant to expand the public storehouse of knowledge and stimulate follow-on research, there is evidence to suggest that patents on genes discourage follow-on research. Moreover, patents on genes are not needed to stimulate the disclosure of research discoveries. The norms of academic science encourage disclosure of research results, and scientists have strong incentives to publish and present their discoveries. Finally, patents are not needed to encourage disclosure in industry because a new health care product or service will not be accepted by the clinical community unless there is disclosure and because products such as genetic diagnostic test kits can be easily reversed engineered.”

http://oba.od.nih.gov/oba/sacghs/reports/sacghs_patents_report_2010.pdf
Gene Patents and Licensing Practices and Their Impact on Patient Access to Genetic Tests
Report of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society
Department of Health & Human Services USA
April 2010

Also see:

Effects of Patents and Licenses on the Provision of Clinical Genetic Testing Services
Journal of Molecular Diagnostics
http://jmd.amjpathol.org/article/S1525-1578(10)60444-8/abstract

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