Friday, June 14, 2013

Myriad Ado About Myriad

Never before has the media made more fuss about a patent law court decision. Since the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in AMP v. Myriad on June 13, 2013, newspapers, radio, television, and the web have been delirious about DNA. For those brave few who care about patent law, this has been wonderful. I have had a lot of fun doing a number of interviews about the Myriad decision over the past day. Two National Public Radio stations - KPR and KCUR - broadcast a story that included parts of an interview with Bryan Thompson, a very talented health reporter. Here is the audio of the story. Here is an excerpt of the transcript:
Professor Andrew Torrance specializes in biotechnology patent law at the University of Kansas. He says the ruling falls hardest on companies that have invested billions of dollars, hoping to profit from patents on human gene fragments like those that help reveal a person’s risk for breast cancer. 
“I think that its practical effect will be to lop many tens of billions of dollars off the investments that a lot of biotech and pharmaceutical companies—and even some universities—made in locating and sequencing and patenting these natural-source genomes," he says.
The Kansas City Star also conducted an interview, and ran an article about the landmark Myriad decision on its frontpage. Here is an excerpt from the June 14, 2013, edition of the newspaper:
"The decision was a little confusing," said Andrew Torrance, a law professor and genetics expert at the University of Kansas. "The court said that isolated, unmodified DNA is patentable, but it hinted at patentability of modified DNA and methods or processes used with synthetic DNA."

Torrance agreed that “pharma and biotech will continue to make money.… The natural-source DNA money stream is coming to an end. It actually peaked in about 2001. Now you have to do more hard work to design genes and get them to do what you want them to do.”
Read more here:
Although the importance of the Myriad decision will take years to reveal itself, the public and the media both appear to sense its importance to innovation, biotechnology, and medicine.  Patent law should bask in its brief time in the limelight, for it will soon return to its usual position well outside the public eye.