Sunday, April 14, 2013

That Supreme Court Gene Thing

I really wish I had a better understanding of what's going on in the Supreme Court tomorrow. I know it matters, and I've figured out a little about it, but if someone wants to debate me on the subject, I don't think I know enough to hold my end of the argument. But I'm guessing that if I didn't have breast cancer myself, I know and understand even less. Therefore, I'm going to blog tonight to sort out the few thoughts I have, and do it as a teacher to anyone who wants to learn with me.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I decided upon a double mastectomy. However, I could have said, "Why don't you just try cutting out that lump in my right breast? See if you can get everything without taking my boobs." At that point, the doctors would have said, "Let's find out whether you have the breast cancer gene. If you do, your body will probably grow cancer again, so your best bet is to go for the double mastectomy."

So my blood would have been drawn, and the sample would be sent to a company called Myriad. Then would check for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes using some patented technology they have invented to find the genes (I think). Then they'd let my doctors and me know whether I had either of them and decisions about treatment could be made from there.

I opted for the mastectomy without knowing about my genes. However, I did have a blood sample sent in to Myriad this past summer (just another blood draw during my chemo infusions). I wanted to know whether I was carrying a gene that Maggie or Reese or either of my two sisters might have to worry about. Also, those BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes also indicate something about cancer in the female parts. Clearly, my tests came back negative, or I'd know more about this.

Because the insurance through Paul's work has been superb throughout this whole thing (thanks SRC and Excellus), the genetic test was covered. However, I was warned in advance that this is an expensive test to do. Myriad is the only place that does this genetic testing. That's where this whole Supreme Court thing comes in. Does Myriad have the right to patent our genes?

In my opinion, they shouldn't. If Myriad has the patent to locate the BRCA genes, they control the price. I read somewhere that the company makes a huge profit off of this. Also, if they are making money from this without competition, where's their incentive to improve their research and find new things?

That's where my understanding of this stuff ends. I have a few articles (there are many) that you can read here in preparation for what will be in the news tomorrow. (I admit, they're pretty slanted toward my opinion.) Please feel free to post if you have anything to add or if I said something incorrect, and if you want to start that debate with me where I'll be unable to defend myself, go ahead. At least I might learn something.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Shari! Thanks for posting on the Myriad case. I just sent you an email, but maybe this video will help clarify what this case is all about: