US biotech firm settles patent lawsuits involving BRCA gene tests, agrees to dismiss claims against several labs

Myriad Genetics has ended its bid to prevent other companies from producing tests for genetic mutations associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer that it owned patents on. The company has settled with three of the companies that it was suing, and it is in settlement discussions with the four other defendant firms.

‘In the cases that have been settled, both sides will dismiss their claims and counterclaims, and that will effectively put an end to the litigation,’ Myriad Genetics spokesperson Ron Rogers tells Chemistry World. ‘The claims will be dismissed,’ he says. Among those cases that remain unsettled is the one involving California-based Ambry Genetics.

Earlier this month, a US appeals court rejected Myriad’s claims against Ambry, ruling that three of Myriad’s patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are invalid. The ruling opened the door for competitor companies to offer cheaper tests for mutations in BRCA genes. The appeals court decision followed a US Supreme Court opinion in 2013 that rejected other Myriad patent claims.

Sandra Park, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, says Myriad will no longer be using it patents to try to monopolise examination of the BRCA genes. She notes that many labs that were interested in offering BRCA testing were discouraged by the possibility of becoming embroiled in patent litigation that can cost upwards of $1 million (£665,000).