Private companies cannot own patents on human genes, the Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling Thursday. The case has major implications for the biotechnology industry, and will likely make a popular genetic test much cheaper. The court struck down patents on two genes — known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 — that help predict women's risk of developing breast cancer. (It's the same test that prompted Angelina Jolie to undergo a double mastectomy.)
Genes are products of nature and thus can't be patented, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court. But the justices said synthetic DNA, made in a lab, is eligible for patent protection.
Striking down the specific patents held by Myriad Genetics will likely make the the BRCA test much cheaper, and it will allow other companies to develop their own diagnostics analyzing the same genes.
Healthwatch has the story on Thursday's ruling.
OFA plans ObamaCare campaign: Organizing for America plans to start a healthcare campaign next week. OFA Executive Director John Carson said in a memo Thursday that the organization will launch television ads next week highlighting Affordable Care Act benefits that are already in place.
"Those ads will mark our first foray into Obamacare education that will be ongoing this summer, both highlighting the successes of the law so far and the benefits soon to kick in," Carson wrote.
In addition to the TV campaign, he said, the OFA has added more than 800 state-level organizers who will help promote the healthcare law and push for comprehensive immigration reform.
Issa probes navigators: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) accused the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday of improperly funding a new "assisters" program to help people make sense of new coverage options available under ObamaCare. He said the HHS has improperly tapped funding to help set up insurance exchanges — a move that "intentionally circumvented an explicit federal funding ban in the interest of convenience and political expediency," Issa said.