Bioethics News

How To Make Sure We All Benefit When Nonprofits Patent Techonologies Like CRISPR

July 19, 2017

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Or when potentially lifesaving inventions are priced so high that access is limited? The public partially underwrites nonprofit discoveries via tax breaks and isn’t seeing a lot of benefit in return.

Questions like these arose recently in the case of CRISPR, the promising new gene-editing technology. After patenting it, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard sold the exclusive right to develop CRISPR-based therapies to its sister company Editas Medicine. Critics worry that this monopoly could limit important research and result in exorbitant prices on emerging treatments.

We’ve seen this situation before: For example, Xtandi, a prostate cancer drug developed and patented by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles, now costs US$129,000 for a course of treatment.

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Image: Peter Vanderwarker, CC BY

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Source: Bioethics Bulletin by the Berman Institute of Bioethics.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.