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How does human gene patent ruling affect health care?

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Air date: July 14, 2013

Hosts: Kathy Miller, MD, Barbara Lewis

Healthcare Policy & Public Health
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Interview: Aaron Carroll, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Childrenís Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research.

Kathy Miller, M.D., co-leader of the breast cancer program, IU Simon Cancer Center



The Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that naturally occurring human genes cannot be patented. The case involved Myriad Genetics and its claim to mutations in two types of naturally occurring biological matter, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Mutations to both of these genes indicate a hereditary chance of breast or ovarian cancer. Kathy Miller, M.D., co-leader of the breast cancer program at the IU Simon Cancer Center, and Aaron Carroll, M.D., M.S., the director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research discuss how the ruling will affect the health care industry. According to Dr. Carroll, the Supreme Courtís decision only prohibited companies from patenting genes that already exist; Myriad Genetics only developed a test for mutations. Dr. Miller says the ruling opens the door for cost-friendly testing; the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutations test previously was only available through Myriad Genetics and cost $3,000 to $4,000.