Increasingly, an important theme in the history of cancer is the role of law, particularly in the field of intellectual property law. It is striking that a number of contemporary policy debates over intellectual property and public health have concerned cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment.
In the area of intellectual property and biotechnology, there have been significant disputes over the Utah biotechnology company Myriad Genetics and its patents in respect of genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are related to breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The Federal Court of Australia handed down a decision on the validity of Myriad Genetics’ patent in respect of genetic testing for BRCA1 in February 2013. The Supreme Court of the United States heard a challenge to the validity of Myriad Genetics’ patents in this area in April 2013, and handed down a judgment in July 2013. Such disputes have involved tensions between intellectual property rights, and public health.
This article focuses upon one of these important test cases involving intellectual property, public health, and cancer research.
Dr Matthew Rimmer is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow; an Associate Professor at the ANU College of Law; and an Associate Director of the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA).
© 2012 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.