Fortune and hindsight: Gene patents' muted effect on medical practice

Jacob S. Sherkow, Ryan Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Physicians have long worried about gene patents' potential to restrict their medical practices. Fortune and hindsight have proven these worries exaggerated both in the UK and elsewhere. Neither current nor future medical practices appear to be impinged by gene patents, although they may be subject to future intellectual property disputes. Sources of data: Qualitative and quantitative (survey) studies of gene patents' effects on medical practice; recent developments in patent law. Areas of agreement: Traditional gene patents do not appear to have restricted medical practice in the UK, although their effect elsewhere has been more nuanced. Areas of controversy: Whether patents will restrict the spread of newer medical technologies is unresolved. Areas timely for developing research: Continuing survey data on practitioners' views concerning patents' role in the distribution of newer technologies would be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Medical Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • genetics
  • law
  • medicine
  • patents
  • policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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