The Pirate Party is concerned that Friday’s decision of the Full Federal Court to uphold a patent over the BRCA1 breast cancer gene poses an enormous threat to the treatment of breast cancer and future illnesses. Myriad Genetics’ patent is for the isolated BRCA1 gene, and was upheld on the basis that the isolated gene does not exist in isolated form naturally.
Pirate Party President, Brendan Molloy, commented: “The decision of the Court is disturbing to say the least. This is not an invention or a process — it is naturally occuring genetic material. A private company should not be able to own rights over genetic material found within our bodies.
“This will surely hamper future research into breast cancer, and also other health problems if more patents are granted on isolated genes. This is leaving the door wide open for extortionate licence fees, driving up the costs of further research and treatment.
“Now is the time for legislative intervention to make it clear that patents on isolated genetic material that is removed from its natural state should not be patentable. Monopolies should not be granted where the result of that monopoly is a public health risk.
“Like mathematical formulas, genes should not be patentable. No exceptions.”
The Pirate Party is supportive of any decision to appeal this further to the High Court. The Pirate Party’s patent policy opposes patents on isolated genetic material and proposes extensive patent reform to prevent detrimental effects on public health and innovation.
The Pirate Party denounces any attempts to include certification provisions in the highly secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The United States, one of twelve negotiating nations including Australia, may be given the power to opt-out of the Agreement if countries do not implement the TPP according to the standards of the United States Trade Representative. This has been used by the United States to pressure other countries into adopting its interpretation of trade agreements.
These provisions give an inordinate amount of leverage to the US Government to pressure treaty partners, such as Australia, to alter and adopt laws that go beyond the negotiated text of the treaty. In practice this could result in a situation where the US Government and its advisors are approving, or even drafting, Australian laws to ensure they comply with the interests and expectations of the United States.
Brendan Molloy, President of the Pirate Party, commented: “This is an egregious overreach. I daresay that any Australian government that signs such an unbalanced agreement, which puts such an unequal share of power in the hands of a foreign entity, is guilty of betraying the interests of the Australian people. A partnership where all parties do not have equal power is not a partnership. By signing such a fundamentally unbalanced agreement, Australia would be granting the US significant control of our sovereignty, making us effectively a vassal of the United States.
MELBOURNE — At 6:30 pm today, Pirates of all persuasions will descend upon Federation Square to engage in a swashbuckling pillow fight. Money raised by the event, organised by Pirate Party Australia, will go toward the charity Childhood Cancer Support. The charity’s website can be found here: http://ccs.org.au
“Despite perceptions of parrots, swords and eye-patches, when Pirate Party Australia talks like a pirate it usually means discussing copyright and patent reform, and other policy areas,” said Pirate Party Deputy President Melanie Thomas. “While it’s not always fun and games, we are more than happy to have a bit of fun for a good cause!”
By hosting a pillow fight on Talk Like a Pirate Day, Pirate Party Australia is hoping to draw attention to the need to better enable research opportunities in the field of health and pharmaceuticals. The Party is agitating for reform of patent laws to assist medical research across a range of illnesses, including cancer, and enabling cheaper access to medication and treatment. It is an unfortunate effect of drug patents that they shut down free market competition which might otherwise drive improved manufacturing and delivery techniques.
Just a quick episode this week as Sam runs through the news on the BRCA1 Patent case. Subscribe to the feed, or view past episodes.
Pirate Party Australia’s Press Release
Techdirt story on Australian patent case
Podcast (webcast): Play in new window | Download (Duration: 11:11 — 12.0MB)
Pirate Party Australia is outraged that a legal challenge to the BRCA1 gene patent has failed.
“This ruling is a slap in the face for all of those who will suffer or know somebody who will suffer from breast cancer within their lifetime. It is utterly disgraceful that we live in a nation where private companies can own the genetic material within our bodies,” said Brendan Molloy, Secretary of Pirate Party Australia.
More than two years ago, Pirate Party Australia issued a statement welcoming the legal challenge, with the hope that the case would be a catalyst for laws to expressly forbid patents on genetic materials.
By permitting a patent on BRCA1, discoveries are now effectively given the same protections as inventions. The effect this will have on adequately treating cancer sufferers is abysmal, and also opens the door for hampering future research as private companies secure patents and charge extortionate license fees.