Stifling Research and Jeopardising Healthcare
Three examples show that patents on genes and gene fragments seriously threaten future medical research. They can stifle research and collaboration and increase prices through patent monopolies, neither of which serve the public interest. A review of gene patents - both granted and pending over the last few years - is long overdue. In particular, the case of the CCR5 gene and AIDS clearly highlights the folly of granting broad patents for all medical applications. The simplest solution is for genes and gene fragments to be made unpatentable – political action is needed now before the companies clean up on gene patents and society is left counting the cost.