December 22, 2014
In Canada, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario is challenging gene patents held by companies in the Federal Court of Canada. The hospital is specifically challenging the patent held on a genetic test for long QT syndrome – a rare genetic disorder with fatal consequences. Testing for the gene in people with a family history of the disorder can help doctors prevent disease-related incidents in high-risk patients. The test for long QT syndrome costs CAD 4,500 and, when incidentally discovered in a patient, cannot be revealed to the patient. The doctors can be prevented from learning anything further due to the patents held by a US company – Transgenomic North America. This violation of patient rights and incorrect usage of patenting has been taken to the Federal Court on medical and ethical grounds, citing barriers that gene patents present in providing tests for genetic diseases.