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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Consider Patentability of Drug Dosage Diagnostic Method

Posted Jun 21, 2011 9:22 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the Mayo Clinic that challenges the right to patent a medical diagnostic method that gauges how patients react to varying drug dosages.

Mayo is challenging a patent held by Prometheus Laboratories Inc. on its process for analyzing blood tests to measure the effects of varying dosages of a drug used to treat autoimmune diseases, SCOTUSblog reports. Mayo contends Prometheus isn’t entitled to patent a right to observe natural phenomena—in this case, how the body reacts to medication, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

The Supreme Court had ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to take a second look at the Mayo case after the high court ruled in Bilski v. Kappos last year that some business methods may be patented, but not if the patent is for an abstract idea. The Federal Circuit said the patent was valid since the Prometheus test measured a patient’s change in body chemistry after receiving different drug dosages, SCOTUSblog says.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Supreme Court’s decision could affect patents on several kinds of tests that analyze a person’s DNA to gauge susceptibility to diseases.

SCOTUSblog posted the cert petition (PDF). The case is Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories Inc.

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