Oncologists, pathologists and other physicians were elated by the implications of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling. In a unanimous decision, the Court invalidated patents that Myriad Genetics held on multiple genes - including BRCA1 and BRCA2 - that ends a monopoly held for almost 20 years. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genetic indicators used to help determine hereditary predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. Previously, a woman could only find out if she carried the mutated gene from a test provided by Myriad at a price of more than $3,000. Yesterday's decision now opens it up for other laboratories to offer the test and therefore bring better diagnoses and care to more women.
“It appears that it will allow the market to open up so that other laboratories can offer the test,” said Rebecca Nagy, a genetics counselor at Ohio State University and president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
"This is a landmark decision,” said CAP President, Stanley Robboy MD, FCAP. “Genomic medicine has the potential to be a cornerstone of medical testing, treatment, and clinical integration, but the question of 'who owns your genes' needed a definitive answer. Now we have it.”
As the tests become available to more labs, the results will become more data that will better help physicians and researchers better understand population health. Additionally, as pathologists are able to report on these findings (preferably using synoptic reporting software), a better understanding of what preventative measures and administration of care can be undertaken will emerge. Everyone benefits when access to these pieces of vital information is made easier and less expensive for patients. Research improves, which means that physicians' understanding of how disease and treatment works will improve as well. As physicians' understanding increases, then timeliness of care improves - which means that the patients' outcomes will also improve.
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