Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Patenting gone berserk ...

Wonder why I started seeing stuff on patenting all over the place today! I wasn't particularly looking for them, but they just kept leaping out at me!

Oh, by the way, the update on my previous post has some new links. In particular, you will find a link to Alternative Law Forum that has lots of info on the Mashelkar committee report and on the controversy surrounding it.

Michael Crichton's article in the NYTimes is among the better ones that I saw today:

... Canavan disease is an inherited disorder that affects children starting at 3 months; they cannot crawl or walk, they suffer seizures and eventually become paralyzed and die by adolescence. Formerly there was no test to tell parents if they were at risk. Families enduring the heartbreak of caring for these children engaged a researcher to identify the gene and produce a test. Canavan families around the world donated tissue and money to help this cause.

When the gene was identified in 1993, the families got the commitment of a New York hospital to offer a free test to anyone who wanted it. But the researcher’s employer, Miami Children’s Hospital Research Institute, patented the gene and refused to allow any health care provider to offer the test without paying a royalty. The parents did not believe genes should be patented and so did not put their names on the patent. Consequently, they had no control over the outcome.


  1. Wavefunction said...

    Abi, unfortunately, as well-meaning as he might be, Crichton has reduced the issue to a simplistic and even misleading essay.
    for example.
    Since I read his "State of Fear", I strongly believe that Circhton has strayed away from sound science.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Crichton's knowledge of patent law is spotty, but he's on the right side of the debate. For a more detailed discussion, please see my blog.