Quest Diagnostics can continue to sell tests for genetic mutations related to breast and ovarian cancer under a settlement reached with patent holder Myriad Genetics.
The settlement follows more than a year of patent-claims litigation over testing for mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with higher risks of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Salt Lake City-based Myriad was the only provider of the tests until 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies cannot patent human DNA.
Several companies, including Quest, announced plans to sell their own versions of BRCA tests at lower prices than Myriad's after that ruling. But Myriad continued to argue that its gene-testing patent remained valid even though the court concluded it couldn't hold patents on the genes themselves.
“We just felt like it made sense to put this matter behind us at this time,” Myriad spokesman Ron Rogers said of the Quest agreement. Other plaintiffs in the case, including the University of Utah Research Foundation, trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, HSC Research and Development and Endorecherche, were also part of the agreement.
Dr. Jon Cohen, Quest's chief medical officer, said in a statement that Quest can “focus without distraction” on serving patients who can benefit from the testing.
“We believe strongly that patients should have options in BRCA testing,” Cohen said. More specific terms of the settlement are confidential between Quest and Myriad, a Quest spokeswoman said Monday.
The settlement is the latest in a string of similar agreements between Myriad and companies regarding the testing, including Pathway Genomics, Ambry Genetics, Counsyl, Laboratory Corporation of America and Invitae, Rogers said. Myriad is still in conversations over a remaining case with GeneDx, he said.
Myriad now plans to focus on a three-part growth strategy of expanding its hereditary cancer testing business, diversifying its product portfolio and expanding internationally, Rogers said.
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