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NHS laboratories are infringing DNA patents with cheap “home brew” tests, says Human Genetics Commission

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d5080 (Published 08 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5080
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

NHS hospital pathology services are at increasing risk of being sued for infringing intellectual property rights if they carry out diagnostic tests using patented genetic technology without paying royalties to the patent holders, warns a new report from the Human Genetics Commission.

Since the 1980s thousands of patents relating to human DNA sequences and their use have been granted. Patents are held on specific sequences, biomarkers, and platform technologies, all of which have a vital role in the diagnosis and treatment of serious and rare diseases.

Laboratories buy diagnostic kits where a patent licence is included in the purchase price, but many produce their own tests without considering intellectual rights. These “home brews” vary in …

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