Vies contre profits

NEW YORK – La Cour Suprême des Etats-Unis vient d’entamer ses délibérations sur une affaire qui met en lumière une question profondément problématique concernant les droits de propriété intellectuelle. La Cour doit répondre à la question suivante : les gênes humains – vos gènes – peuvent-ils être brevetés ? En d’autres termes, quelqu’un peut-il essentiellement être autorisé à détenir le droit de, disons, tester si vous avez un ensemble de gènes qui implique que vous avez plus de 50% de probabilité de développer un cancer du sein ?

Pour ceux qui sont étrangers à l’univers mystérieux du droit de la propriété intellectuelle, la réponse semble évidente : Non. Vous êtes le propriétaire de vos gènes. Une entreprise peut détenir, au mieux, la propriété intellectuelle sur son test génétique ; et parce que la recherche et le développement nécessaires au développement de ce type de test peuvent entrainer un coût considérable, l’entreprise pourrait à juste titre faire payer le fait de le pratiquer.

Mais Myriad Genetics, une entreprise basée dans l’Utah, prétend à plus que cela. Elle prétend détenir les droits sur tous les tests visant à rechercher la présence des deux gènes associés au cancer du sein – et a appliqué ce droit de manière impitoyable, bien que leur test soit inférieur à un test que l’Université Yale était disposée à proposer à un prix nettement inférieur. Les conséquences ont été tragiques : un test approfondi et abordable qui identifie les patientes à haut risque sauve des vies. Empêcher de tels tests coûte des vies. Myriad est l’exemple parfait d’une corporation américaine pour laquelle le profit prend le dessus sur toute autre valeur, y compris celle de la vie humaine.

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