Myriad Genetics Ending Patent Dispute on Breast Cancer Risk Testing

Myriad Genetics has essentially given up trying to stop other companies from offering tests for increased risk of breast cancer, ending a dispute that was the subject of a landmark Supreme Court ruling that human genes cannot be patented.

The company has settled or is in the process of settling patent-infringement lawsuits it filed against other companies that now offer such testing, a Myriad spokesman said on Tuesday.

Myriad’s lucrative monopoly on testing for mutations in two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer ended in 2013, when the Supreme Court ruled that human genes were not eligible for patents because they were products of nature.

Numerous laboratories began offering tests, some for much less than the roughly $4,000 Myriad charged for a complete analysis of the two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Myriad sued many of those companies, saying they were infringing other patent claims that had not been invalidated by the Supreme Court.

But last March, a federal district judge in Utah ruled against Myriad’s request for a preliminary injunction against one competitor, Ambry Genetics. Last month, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision and ruled that those remaining claims were also ineligible for patents.

After that ruling, “we decided it was in the best interest of the company to settle these matters,” the Myriad spokesman, Ronald Rogers, said.

Settlements have been reached with LabCorp Invitae and Pathway Genomics. Mr. Rogers said Myriad was in talks with Ambry, Quest Diagnostics, GeneDx and Counsyl.

In the settlements announced so far, the companies have agreed to dismiss the claims and counterclaims against one another, and Myriad has promised not to sue the companies on any remaining patents in the litigation.

Myriad is shifting from the BRCA gene test to a more comprehensive test of 25 genes linked to cancer risk. It is also developing new types of tests to reduce its reliance on the BRCA test.




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