When Patents Kill Innovation

Michelle Geis points to a new report in Genetics in Medicine suggesting that "exclusive licensing of gene patents does more to block competition and decrease patients’ access to testing than it does to spur innovation." The Economist has more:

For example, where gene-testing monopolies do not accept the miserly reimbursements offered by Medicaidthe American government health scheme for the poorthe indigent suffer. Furthermore, the lack of a rival provider of tests to get a second opinion makes it impossible to ensure that results are accurate.

Even more striking is the claim made by the Duke researchers that patent exclusivity is not necessary to spur innovation in genetic testing. Dr Cook-Deegan argues that testing, unlike pricey drug development, has low barriers to entry and is relatively cheap, so a monopoly is not required to lure investors. As evidence, he points to the case of cystic fibrosis: unlike breast cancer, no monopoly patent blocks access to the relevant gene, and dozens of rival testing companies flourish.