Canadian hospital seeks to end patenting of human genes

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 10 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6732
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

The practice of patenting human genes has been legally challenged in Canada by a hospital claiming that it harms patients, drives up costs, and stifles research.

The Federal Court suit by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario has specifically challenged patents held by the University of Utah, Genzyme Genetics, and Yale University on five genes associated with long QT syndrome, which can cause sudden cardiac death in young adults. But the hospital’s legal team hopes that the suit will become a test case on the patenting of human genes in general. Richard Gold, a law professor at McGill University, leads an international team of intellectual property experts who consult pro bono for the hospital. He told The BMJ, “We hope to invite the judge not to give a narrow ruling on these …

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