As genetic research continues to advance, commercial companies have found that there is greater profits to be found in patenting specific genes that are discovered. By patenting the gene, an agency can charge commissions or restrict research on specific gene therapies because they are in control of the patent on that gene. In some ways, there are benefits to gene patenting because it creates competition within the medical field. On the other hand, how ethical is it for a commercial entity to be able to patent something that occurs naturally within humanity?
Here Are the Pros of Gene Patenting
The primary benefit that is associated with gene patenting is research-related. By being able to patent genes, a company has the financial stability and security that will allow them to continue with their research. Instead of needing to worry about their competition coming up with a similar therapy and beating them to the market with it, they can verify results and come up with effective medical treatments to alleviate human suffering.
Gene patenting also helps to reduce conflicts within the medical research community so that the focus can be more toward healing. This helps to provide more information to the general public about what research is going on because there is less of a fear that a specific patent could be stolen through industrial espionage efforts.
Patenting also provides investors with a security that they have the chances of getting a return on their money. Because there are proprietary methods associated with these genes, these methods can help to continue a cycle of investment that benefits all of mankind.
Here Are the Cons of Gene Patenting
The primary issue with gene patenting is that the Supreme Court of the US has ruled that only artificial genes can be patented. Because no natural gene sequences can be patented, this prevents companies from focusing on direct research on human gene sequences, thus focusing on more potentially profitable, but less reliable, artificial genes that can be patented.
Another issue with gene patenting is an unintended monopolization of one field of research. All it takes is one specific artificial gene to potentially create cures in genetic diseases, which means that one company has the potential of monopolizing a field of medicine for profitability. This limited access could create a society based on different classes and their ability to access this technology.
Because patents are company-specific, there is an associated cost that each patient must pay to use a patented product. This increase healthcare costs overall for everyone – even in a free market healthcare system.
Is Gene Patenting the Right Course To Take?
Without some incentive for profit, a company has no reason to spend money to research potential cures of human suffering. Gene patenting helps to provide this incentive, albeit with some risk to society because of it. Do the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to this commercial side of medicine? That is something only you can really decide.