Who pays for personalized medicine?

May 24, 2012

While researchers are busy identifying new biomarkers to detect disease and tailor treatments to individual needs, legal battles have been waged all the way up to the Supreme Court, trying to sort out whether a private company can own the rights to a particular biomarker.

In a new Perspective piece published today in the , Jason Karlawish, MD, professor of Medicine, and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-author Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, delve into a series of high profile court cases testing the limits of .

In the months since a US Supreme Court ruling unanimously "rendered invalid two patents covering a method for determining proper drug dosage," as Nature reports, discussions have swirled about how to pay for . The NEJM co-authors report that "a patentable process now needs to involve an inventive and novel application of a law of nature beyond well-understood, routine, conventional activity, previously engaged in by those in the field."

Without patents protecting such medical discoveries, some have argued that there is no way to recoup the costs of biomarker innovation. To that end, Supreme Court Justice Breyer suggested whether special market-exclusivity protection was warranted.

Instead, the authors suggest that enhanced public funding, public-private partnerships, and open-source consortia may improve biomarker discovery and development, more than a private model. According to the NEJM piece, "the Supreme Court's move to free the fundamental processes of from private ownership…could ultimately enhance the public health."

As biomarkers become more and more prevalent -- helping diagnose diseases, and pairing with treatments targeted to individual needs -- there will need to be solutions to balance the needs of ensuring access to this useful information and paying for personalized medicine.

Explore further: U.S. Supreme Court petitioned to review AMP, et al. lawsuit on gene patents

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Bright lighting encourages healthy food choices

May 26, 2016

Dining in dimly lit restaurants has been linked to eating slowly and ultimately eating less than in brighter restaurants, but does lighting also impact how healthfully we order?

Big Data can save lives, says leading cancer expert

May 16, 2016

The sharing of genetic information from millions of cancer patients around the world could be key to revolutionising cancer prevention and care, according to a leading cancer expert from Queen's University Belfast.

New soap to ward off malaria carrying mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

(Medical Xpress)—Gérard Niyondiko along with colleagues Frank Langevin and Lisa Barutel has posted a project on the crowd source funding site ulule for a product called Faso Soap. They claim the soap can cut in half the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.