I guess I picked the right year to dive into this BRCA thing, huh? First, Angie, and now the Supreme Court.
Today, the SC ruled that Myriad Genetics, who performed my analysis, can no longer hold a patent for their BRCA testing. The justices unanimously agreed that our genes are not an invention; they existed before this analysis did and, while an amazing discovery, it was not a creation.
Agreed, SCOTUS, agreed. The ruling was rightfully narrow and well defined regarding the natural genetics. (Myriad still holds a patent on a laboratory-created gene.)
This is being touted among breast cancer activists as a monumental moment, a door opened to new research and more affordable testing out there. Already, another company, Ambry Genetics is offering the test for $1,000 less than Myriad was.
Pretty great, but I still have some questions and mixed feelings.
Will insurances cover these new companies and their testing? I know many women don't have great insurance, but if you had a family history that qualified you, as I did, the Myriad test was fairly affordable. Hopefully, it will just become more so.
I also worry people may pursue genetic testing without counseling or unnecessarily. So, if a company offers the test for $2,000 instead if $3,000, will someone pay that money outright, without family history or genetic counseling? I guess I worry that this publicity could prey on women's worries and less established companies could exploit that for profit.
Maybe I'm just jaded.
What I do hope comes from this is further research into the other genes causing breast and ovarian cancers. Friends of mine have had the Myriad test, but because they test for very specific mutations, they walked away with "undetermined" diagnoses. They could have mutations that just aren't covered by those previously patented tests. And the research into those other genes was hindered by patent infringement, so let the research begin!
And as much as I don't agree with a company having a monopoly on this, Myriad did give me a fighting chamce, so for that, I'm thankful.
If you want more information, please check out FORCE. They are maintaining a page with information on all of the upcoming options for genetic testing.