BC will no longer offer a particular breast-cancer screening test
And why? Because a U.S. company owns the patent to the genese being examined, and now wants to charge $3500 per exam. Which is significantly more than the government used to pay. Now, some will argue that they should let users pay this extra cost if they want the exam. However, that is an immediate step down a two-tiered health-care system road, which we should not take. It’s perhaps the weakness of a subsidized health-care system that it must be geared towards the lowest common denominator, but that’s also what makes it work — everyone has access to the same service
This gene-patenting thing just makes me so mad. I always thought that patents were on inventions, not discoveries. I mean – could someone patent a new element or mineral they find in the earth? So why can companies patent genes that they discover in the human body? I could understand perhaps some form of compensation should another private company wish to use a particular test for their own profit. But the healthcare system should be exempt from that. Even American healthcare, which is by and large for profit should be exempt from patent-infringement law when it concerns patient treatment. Of course, the best solution would be to completely re-write the patent laws, perhaps banning the patenting of human genetic codes, but that’s a whole other ball of wax.
The counter argument for this is that it costs a lot of money to research these genes and that companies should be rewarded for their research. My main argument is that this research should all be conducted in the public domain, but that’s an ideological argument, and if one’s idealogy is opposing, we will probably never agree. If private companies sink millions or billions of dollars into research of these genes, they should reasonably expect to make money off of their research. Perhaps they are allowed to patent a particular test, or treatment related to these genes, but not the genes themselves. In addition, these patents should last only a very short time, during which they will likely make their money back through surges in stock price & sales in America. After which, the no-name brand clones can come in with their tests & treatments for cheaper. Of course, at any point during those 5 years, other groups can come up with non-patent infringing tests, and knowledge will spread, etc. Or at least in my theory.