Patenting a gene has some advantages and disadvantages. There are many ethical concerns which have been raised about patenting the gene on medical practice as well as on research and development. It will surprise everyone that nearly 30,000 human genes have been patented in the United States.
Patents are granted by US government to inventors for new discoveries and inventions. The patent requires disclosure that teaches the world how to make and use an invention.
There is a procedure to award the patent, companies have to give an exam by a patent agency and after that patent is granted.
- There are several advantages of patenting genes; it gives companies some time to have a look at the genes without any competition. The main reason behind this step is to prevent the competition among companies so that they do not have to worry about which company is competing with them, by this method it is easy to make new discoveries. The main advantages go to small companies that may not have the financial support to compete with larger, more established companies.
- Gene patenting encourages research and development in private companies and industries. By giving patent support to companies for innovation and invention, it is beneficial for researchers to work harder and developed new plans and thinks creatively in order to obtain a patent for their work.
- For the small companies, there is a golden chance to invest in the field of development and research, by doing this there is great chance of improving financially, not only for companies but if we look at researchers there is a great chance of investing in a gene patenting, this provides financial support for the development of useful innovations. If any company wants to introduce any drug in a market it can take hundreds of millions of dollars, most of the small companies do not have this money and they rely on investors for financial assistance.
- The main problem with patenting a gene is that it hinders research as patents give the owners intellectual property rights on the patented genome sequence for 17 to 20 years. For example, the gene BRCA1 and BRCA2 belong to myriad genetics, it is linked to inherited breast and ovarian cancers, and it means if any other company wants to do any research on these genes they cannot do this because of the patent of this gene to myriad genetics.
- Gene patenting leads to monopolization of genes, that means there are many buyers but only one seller and the patented company has full right to decide to not allow other companies to look at these genes.
- It will slow down the development of medical fields, as the company holds the patent other companies cannot research for example if a patient has a test done on that gene, the samples must be sent to the company owning the gene patent in order to be tested, this could delay in getting test results.