Gene Patents | Position Statements


The American College of Medical Genetics is a professional organization for medical genetics professionals. It takes the position that genes, as naturally occurring substances, should not be patentable and that any gene patents with clinical uses should be broadly licensed under reasonable terms.

The American Medical Association is a national professional organization for physicians concerned with issues affecting patients and the public health. It is concerned that gene patents could make genetic medicine prohibitively expensive.

The American Medical Student Association is a student-governed organization for physicians-in-training. The Association has put together a primer on gene patents, including its position that gene patents are harmful to patients and violate traditional patent law standards.

The American Society of Human Genetics is a professional organization for human geneticists. It has expressed concern that allowing patents on particular genetic sequences would create a race among competing laboratories to patent their discoveries, reducing the degree to which important scientific information could be effectively shared.

The Association for Molecular Pathology is an international scientific society designed to advance clinical molecular diagnostic and prognostic medicine. It has taken the position that gene patents should not be used to limit medical professionals' access to genetic testing materials and that gene patents should therefore be widely licensed.

The BioIndustry Association, a trade association in the United Kingdom's bioscience sector, sponsored the "Manifesto for Biotechnology." It states that gene patents are a necessary requirement for the advancement of biotechnology because companies could not afford to fund their research without them.

The "Primer on Genome and Genomic Research" is sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and contains its position that patent protection for gene discovery is consistent with federal law. BIO is a Washington, D.C. based biotechnology trade organization.

The College of American Pathologists is a professional organization that aims to better serve the interests of patients, pathologists and the public by encouraging excellence in the field of pathology. The organization holds the position that "genes and their mutations are naturally occurring substances and should not be patented."

The Council for Responsible Genetics is an American nonprofit organization of professionals and other concerned citizens. It has taken the position that there can be no claim of ownership over any living organism; this extends to the position that patents should not be granted on any biological material, including genes.

Greenpeace International discusses how the patenting of nucleotide sequences hinders medical institutions, particularly in the field of diagnostics, and impedes research and development, particularly in the field of infectious diseases. The organization concludes: "Genes must therefore be considered far more as encoded information than as patentable chemical substances. Present patenting practice, where the statement of just one commercial application of a gene is enough to claim a monopoly on all uses of the gene, leads to gross overcompensation and considerable impediments to research."

The Human Genetics Alert is an independent public interest group based in London. It is funded by a British charity and focuses on human genetics issues. It argues that allowing the patenting of genes created a gold rush that caused biotechnology companies to make every effort to monopolize genetic discoveries.

The Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) is an international group of scientists, based in London, involved in the Human Genome Project. It released a statement in 2000 following the promulgation of the European Union's Directive 98/44/EC, recommending that genetic sequences not be patented for fear of rewarding those who make basic scientific discoveries at the expense of those who develop those discoveries into diagnostic tests and therapies.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations is a worldwide, nonprofit organization representing the research-based pharmaceutical industry and the manufacturers of prescribed medicines. In a speech, as a response to a report that called for a ban on all gene patents, the Director General argues that gene patents are beneficial to public health because they help fund research.

The National Society of Genetic Counselors is a U.S.-based professional organization for genetic counselors. It argues that the development of genetic technology is expensive and that patents on gene sequences can provide an important source of funds to pay for that development. It therefore generally supports gene patents in concept, although it suggests that broad licensing under reasonable terms will help ensure that gene patents do not restrict development.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) is a professional organization that promotes the science and practice of pathology in Australia and New Zealand. It has taken the position that human genes are naturally occurring substances and therefore are not patentable. The organization is mainly concerned that patents on basic genetic technology could limit future development of genetic technology.

The World Medical Association represents physicians around the world, ensuring that international physicians work for the highest possible standards of ethical behavior and care. It considers genes to be part of "mankind's common heritage" and urges medical organizations around the globe to lobby against gene patenting.


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