So, it seems that the US Dept. of Health and Human Services will recommend de-fanging almost completely gene patents as they are presently granted in the US. Essentially, they have reached the same conclusions that I reach in my book regarding the nature and utility of gene patents and effects in creating patent thickets. Because the report is not available yet, I cannot say whether they address any of the ethical issues involved. Here's part of the conclusion reported at IPWatchdog, where my friend Gene Quinn is naturally quite alarmed by what I consider to be a fantastic step forward:
"For the most part, patents covering genetic tests and related licensing practices do not appear to be causing wide or lasting barriers to patient access. However, the case studies and public comments documented several situations in which patient access to genetic tests has been impeded for segments of the population—especially indigent patients—when these tests are offered by an exclusive provider or a limited number of providers, a practice directly enabled by current patenting and licensing practices."
I look forward to reading the final report and hoping that Congress acts as recommended.