College of American Pathologists

  News Release


Published on June 13, 2013

Contact:Jodi Greenblatt
Phone: 202-354-7102

Patients Win in Supreme Court Gene Patent Decision

Northfield, IL—June 13, 2013—The College of American Pathologists applauds today's unanimous Supreme Court decision invalidating the patents held by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. It is a victory for patients and for science.

CAP is a co-plaintiff in the case Association of Molecular Pathology et al, vs Myriad Genetics, Inc., which the court decided today.

“This is a landmark decision,“ said CAP President, Stanley Robboy MD, FCAP. “Genomic medicine has the potential to be a cornerstone of medical testing, treatment, and clinical integration, but the question of “who owns your genes“ needed a definitive answer. Now we have it.“

The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are indicators for a hereditary predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. It is thought that only 5% of women carry mutations in these genes that increase their cancer risk. Until the Court's decision today, a woman could only find out if they carry the mutated gene from a test provided by Myriad at a price of more than $3,000.

By invalidating Myriad's claims to human genes as well as all naturally occurring mutations of the genes, the Court opened the door for other companies and researchers who can now create their own tests and conduct their own research on the heretofore patented genes. Patient groups and medical groups have voiced concerns for several years that the patents stifled innovation, while the high cost of the tests made it difficult for many women to benefit from the tests that already exist.

“The Supreme Court decision invalidating Myriad Genetics' patents on BRCA1 and BRCA2, is a huge victory for patients," said Debra Leonard, MD, PhD, FCAP, Chair of CAP's Personalized Health Care Committee. "It will allow women to receive life saving, state-of-the-art genetic tests without being forced to trust one provider or one laboratory performing a single test to secure a diagnosis or inform treatment."

For more information on CAP's position on genomic medicine and on the case against Myriad Genetics, visit

Reporters Note: Dr. Leonard serves as CAP's official spokesperson on the Myriad case and on the issue of gene patents. Contact
(202-354-7102) to arrange an interview.

Reporters should plan to attend CAP's “Supreme Court Gene Patent Decision“ Reactor Panel, discussing different perspectives on the Supreme Court decision and what it means for patient care. The panel will be held on Wednesday, June 19 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Contact to register.

About the College of American Pathologists

As the leading organization for board-certified pathologists, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. With more than 18,000 physician members, the CAP has led as the gold standard in laboratory accreditation for 50 years with more than 7,300 CAP-accredited laboratories in 50 countries. Find more information about the CAP at