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BIO Joins Stakeholders in Expressing Concerns with Efforts to Restrict Gene Patenting

Today, the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society (SACGHS), approved, with on dissent, a draft report which recommends legislative changes to the patent laws in regards to gene patents and recommends restrictions on licensing of federally funded research. The report will be forwarded with minor changes to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. BIO spearheaded a sign-on letter urging the Secretary to reject the SACGHS’ recommendations and released the letter at an event at the National Press Club in Washington DC yesterday. Participating in the event yesterday were Jim Greenwood, President and CEO, BIO, former Senator Birch Bayh, Co-Author of the Bayh-Dole Act, Brian Stanton, Task Force Member, SACGHS, Jim Davis, General Counsel, Human Genome Sciences and Jon Soderstrom, Ph.D., Managing Director of Yale University’s Office of Cooperative Research. See below for links to the letter and a podcast of the event.

Press Release

Stakeholder letter to HHS Secretary


BIO Joins Stakeholders in Expressing Concerns with Efforts to Restrict Gene Patenting Restrictions would threaten advances in public health and harm the national economy
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, February 05, 2010) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) released today a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding the potentially harmful recommendations of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society (SACGHS) in its Report on Gene Patents and Licensing Practices and Their Impact on Patient Access to Genetic Tests.

BIO was joined on the letter by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), Genetic Alliance, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), and more than 20 other stakeholders in urging Secretary Sebelius to reject the Committee’s recommendations and to ensure that the fundamentals of the innovation system put in place nearly 30 years ago through the Bayh-Dole Act are preserved.

In the letter, the stakeholders stated, “We welcome efforts to improve patient access to genetic tests, and stand ready to work with you and other interested parties to do so. But we believe that the recommendations, if implemented, would unravel two sets of laws that are the foundation of life science innovation in this country – the patent system and the Bayh-Dole Act. This would do more harm to patients than good, by impairing the research, development and commercialization of the medicines and diagnostic tests of tomorrow.”

“By undermining the value of gene-based patents, these recommendations would chill future investment and innovation, and would undermine the investment-backed expectations of current patent owners and licensees,” stated BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood. “The United States must preserve incentives for investment and innovation, particularly given the current state of the economy. It is not the time to undertake or recommend policy changes that would undermine the foundations of American life sciences innovation.”

The letter is available at


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