Supremes Could Soon Shake Up Medical Testing

As with most things involving the courts and the future, the ‘could’ of the title cannot be emphasized enough.

I don’t keep up with some cases as much as I should.  Thanks to The Scientist and Bioephemera, I know now that two cases involving medical testing are now at various points in the Supreme Court process.  The first, Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., was heard by the Court last December.  No decision has yet been issued, but the court has several weeks before the end of its term.  This case concerns competing medical tests, one patented, one not.

The second case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., I have followed more regularly, and concerns testing for genes often connected to breast cancer.  Both the tests and the genes are patented.  This case is pending an official decision from the court whether to hear the case or not.

There is some speculation that the Court may wait until it issues its decision in Mayo before deciding whether to hear the matter involving Myriad Genetics (Court rules indicate the Supreme Court could decide whether to hear the Myriad case at any time).  This most I would recommend reading into this is that the Court considers the legal questions in the cases to be closely related.  Whether that means the ruling in Mayo makes a decision in Myriad moot or not is something best left for when that ruling is issued.  At least for those of us (like me) who aren’t lawyers.