Vite umane o profitti?

NEW YORK – La Corte Suprema degli Stati Uniti ha recentemente avviato le consultazioni in merito a una causa legale che evidenzia una questione molto delicata riguardante i diritti di proprietà intellettuale. La Corte dovrà rispondere alla seguente domanda: è possibile che i geni umani – i nostri geni – siano brevettati? In altre parole, si può consentire ad altri di avere il diritto, ad esempio, di verificare se abbiamo una sequenza di geni che implica una probabilità superiore al 50% di sviluppare il cancro al seno?

Per i profani dell’arcano mondo della proprietà intellettuale, la risposta più ovvia è no. I nostri geni sono soltanto nostri. Un'azienda potrebbe, al massimo, detenere la proprietà intellettuale del proprio test genetico, e poiché la ricerca che ha portato a svilupparlo può aver richiesto investimenti considerevoli, farne giustamente pagare la somministrazione.

Ma c’è una società nello Utah, la Myriad Genetics, che rivendica più di questo. Essa sostiene di detenere i diritti su qualsiasi test per rilevare la presenza dei due geni associati al cancro al seno, e non si è fatta scrupoli a esercitare tale diritto, anche se il suo prodotto è inferiore a quello che l'Università di Yale era pronta a fornire a prezzi molto più contenuti. Le conseguenze sono state drammatiche: un test efficace e accessibile, in grado d’individuare le pazienti ad alto rischio, può salvare la vita di molte persone. Bloccare un simile test, pertanto, vuol dire pagare un caro prezzo in termini di vite umane. La Myriad è un autentico esempio di azienda americana per la quale i profitti surclassano tutti gli altri valori, tra cui quello della vita umana stessa.

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