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Crohn's Disease Forum » Books, Multimedia, Research & News » Prometheus Patents Overturned: Re Calibrated Drug Dosages


03-24-2012, 08:10 PM   #1
DustyKat
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Prometheus Patents Overturned: Re Calibrated Drug Dosages

The US Supreme Court ruled that two dose calibration methods from biotech company Prometheus Laboratories cannot be patented.

Personalized medicine just got a little harder to patent. Today (March 20), the United States Supreme Court decided that two diagnostic methods developed by Prometheus Laboratories to calibrate drug dosages did not meet the standards for patent eligibility, reported Reuters.

Synthetic thiopurines are administered to treat certain auto-immune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, but patients must be monitored to optimize dosing while minimizing side effects. Prometheus’s methods rely on monitoring the levels of various metabolites in red blood cells. In 2004, the Mayo Clinic devised its own diagnostic tests based on different levels of these metabolites. Prometheus Laboratories sued in District Court, alleging patent infringement, and Mayo claimed in return that Prometheus’s tests relied on unpatentable natural phenomena. The Federal District Court upheld Prometheus’s patents, because the methods added treatment steps and used the natural correlation between metabolite concentration and toxicity in a specific application, reported Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

But the US Supreme Court disagreed with this assessment and overturned the Federal District Court’s ruling.

“To transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patentCookie eligible application of such a law, a patent must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words ‘apply it,’” the Supreme Court’s opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, asserted. “We conclude that the patent claims at issue here effectively claim the underlying laws of nature themselves. The claims are consequently invalid.”

Lisa Haile, a patent attorney and co-chair of the Global Life Sciences Sector at the firm DLA Piper, predicted that the US Supreme Court would overturn Prometheus’s patents, but suggests that the addition of more “active” steps could render the methods eligible for patenting. Examples of “active” steps, Haile explained to The Scientist in an email, include comparing a patient’s 6-thioguanine concentration to a reference level and determining whether it falls within the therapeutic range.

Prometheus’s patents aren’t the only ones under scrutiny. Several other cases will be decided soon, including Myriad Genetics’ patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The court’s ruling will help determine how patents will be applied to personalized medicine, Courtenay C. Brinckerhoff, vice-chair of the Chemical, Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Practice at law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, wrote in a recent opinion piece for The Scientist. Whether patents stifle development of new therapeutics, encourage innovation, help or hurt patients, is still unclear, said Brinckerhoff, and the Supreme Court may be approaching these questions on a case-by-case basis.

Correction (March 21, 2012): The story has been updated to correct the name of Justice Stephen Breyer. The Scientist regrets the error.

Source:

http://the-scientist.com/2012/03/20/...ts-overturned/

Dusty.
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03-24-2012, 08:33 PM   #2
handle
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Very interesting, and I'm glad of the US Supreme Court ruling.
I know patents are necessary to protect financial investments in research, but they should not be handed out with so few 'active steps' involved!
03-24-2012, 08:48 PM   #3
David
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It's about time the Supreme Court made a good ruling. I guess they have to throw one in there once in awhile.

Thanks for posting this Dusty
03-29-2012, 06:57 AM   #4
RFarmer
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> Prometheus Laboratories sued in District Court, alleging patent infringement, and Mayo claimed in return that Prometheus’s tests relied on unpatentable natural phenomena.

It annoys me that this happens. It implies that making money is more important than the patient's well being.
03-30-2012, 12:55 PM   #5
mnsun
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I agree, it also could possibly stifle new approaches in addition to racking up ridiculous charges on health bills.

Putting aside the asinine idea that a company can patent the decision a doctor determines based on differing ranges of lab readings measured (if that makes sense), if any patentable procedure/instrument/method becomes so universal ($) and is later found to be erroneous or less effective (considering the evolution of technology as it COULD eventually apply to healthcare), what is the incentive for corporations to update their products/inventions before their patents expire?

Speaking as a patient with no patience for patents, maybe this is a bigger-picture argument having less to do with Prometheus, but imagine if companies could patent what are essentially decision-making processes? I guess the way brainscanning technologies are going, it could be possible...

Further still, on the outer periphery of the topic posted, I unfortunately do not believe for one second that government-run schemes will surpass the current flawed system in terms of innovation/effectiveness. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.
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