Do Patents Impede the Provision of Genetic Tests in Australia?
37 Australian Health Review 281, 2013
5 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2014
Date Written: May 24, 2013
Objective: Health policy and law reform agencies lack a sound evidence base of the impacts of patents on innovation and access to healthcare to assist them in their deliberations. This paper reports the results of a survey of managers of Australian genetic testing laboratories that asked a series of questions relating to the tests they perform, whether they pay to access patented inventions and whether they have received notifications from patent holders about patents associated with particular tests.
Results: Some diagnostics facilities are exposed to patent costs, but they are all located in the private sector. No public hospitals reported paying license fees or royalties beyond those included in the price of commercial test kits. Some respondents reported having received enforcement notices from patent holders, but almost all related to the widely known breast cancer-associated patents. Respondents were also asked for their views on the most effective mechanisms to protect their ability to provide genetic tests now and in the future. Going to the media, paying license fees, ignoring patent rights and relying on the government to take action were widely seen as most effective. Litigation and applications for compulsory licenses were seen as some of the least effective mechanisms.
Conclusion: These results provide an evidence base for development of health policy and law reform.
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