Press Release: Ovarian Cancer Advocates Praise Supreme Court Decision on Gene Patents

Ruling Will Give Women More Options to Learn About Genetic Risk

Washington, DC—The Supreme Court ruled today that a company cannot patent naturally occurring genes, including isolated gene segments, overturning a decision made by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in August 2012, which upheld a patent claim on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Numerous patient and provider groups—including the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance—supported the argument advance by the American Civil Liberties Union. Myriad Genetics had patented the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations, and sells a test for those mutations called BRCAnalysis that costs approximately $3,300.

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are heritable mutations, meaning that a person may inherit them through their mother or father. These genetic mutations can increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer to between 10 and 60 percent.

In response to today’s decision, Alliance CEO Calaneet Balas said: “As a voice for everyone whose life has been touched by ovarian cancer, we are grateful that the Supreme Court has ruled that naturally occurring DNA segments cannot be patented. Many women we work with are concerned about their genetic risk of developing ovarian cancer, especially in the wake of Angelina’s Jolie’s announcement that she carries the BRCA1 mutation. Myriad’s patent limited women’s options for learning about their genetic risk. Given the deadly nature of ovarian cancer, we are pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision and hopeful that it will give women more options to learn about and safeguard their health.”

Women with ovarian cancer can find hope and strength through the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. As a leading voice for our community, we connect survivors, legislators and health providers with the mutual goal of saving women’s lives. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) organization established in 1997.

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For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Amanda Davis at adavis@ovariancancer.org or (202)331-1332.