The Forgotten Victim in the Human Gene Patenting Debate: Pharmaceutical Companies

By Jacob D. Moore

J.D. Candidate 2012, University of Florida Levin College of Law; Ph.D. Biochemistry, Florida State University.

Excerpt from The Forgotten Victim in the Human Gene Patenting Debate: Pharmaceutical Companies, 63 Fla. L. Rev. 1277

Introduction

Scientific innovation is crucial to the prosperity, security, and health of a nation. 1 During the founding years of the United States, political leaders realized the need for such innovation and created the patent law system 2 as a means of protecting American citizens. 3 The major goals of the United States patent law system are to provide the public with cutting-edge scientific discoveries and to enlighten the public as to how these discoveries can benefit society. 4

In modern America, a substantial amount of patent protection is sought for inventions relating to the pharmaceutical industry. In recent decades, the pharmaceutical industry has expanded rapidly as researchers invent new and more effective drugs and products. 5 The average life expectancy and quality of life of United States citizens has drastically increased in the past century, largely due to pharmaceutical innovation. 6 Nonetheless, nearly sixty million people die each year, with many of these deaths caused by problems that pharmaceutical companies are striving to cure. 7

In the late 1970s, scientific researchers began to view genetic material as a means of developing treatment options for a variety of human diseases. 8 Today, approximately two-thirds of the new drugs that hit the market have been influenced by genetic research, 9 and genetic material has been linked to more than 850 human diseases. 10 Additionally, biotechnology investors have indicated-with their pocketbooks-that they believe that the future of disease prevention and treatment is tied to genetic research. 11 Despite the fact that ...

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