On the basis of the recommendations of the 2010 Senate Community
Affairs References Committee Report on Gene Patents, the Centre for
International Economics (CIE) was commissioned by IP Australia to
investigate the economics of isolated human gene patents in
Australia. The Report has recently been made publically available
and focuses on the economic impact in Australia of gene patents. A
copy of the report can be found at the following link,
Patents play a key role in promoting innovation and the
public-private partnerships required to bring new human gene-based
medicines and diagnostics to market.
Patent activity related to isolated human gene sequences has
declined dramatically since the completion of the Human Genome
Project in 2003.
Current gene patenting activity is increasingly focused on
methods of using isolated gene sequences and on modified (i.e. not
naturally occurring) DNA and genetic sequences created in
Approximately $795m was invested in gene technologies related
to human health in Australia during 2011-12, and this has been
rising over time. Isolated human gene sequences are part of that
investment. However, the Report indicated that it was not possible
to isolate the precise share.
Measurable economic impacts associated with isolated human gene
sequence patents are small in terms of royalty and fee income
attributable to the patent.
Costs often cited as caused by isolated human gene patents,
e.g. price of gene diagnostic tests or the inability to improve on
diagnostics, do not appear to be the result of patents per se but
rather issues over exclusive licensing, complexity of the
technology or business relations. No additional economic cost
attributable to these patents could be identified.
The findings of the Report appear to indicate that the patent
system is effective in bringing gene-based medicines and
diagnostics to the market for the benefit of the Australian
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