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Angelina Jolie, Genetic Testing and a Potential Monopolized Industry

Angelina Jolie kept secret the details about her mastectomy; a choice taken following results of a genetic test. She did not reveal her choice until she was three months into the process, at this point she gave coherent and thoughtful information about her treatment and operation – several pieces of information give a very peculiar insight into the industry of genetic testing as of today. One of the most interesting details about Jolie’s mastectomy is the fact that she underwent her genetic testing for the BRCA gene through the biotechnological company Myriad Genetics, which transcends a wealth of information about the current status of the BRCA genetic testing procedure around the world.

According to Jolie’s statements and several other medical-related articles published on the web, the firm Myriad Genetics which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah holds biological patents and other wide number of patent rights to the BRCA genetic testing procedure. These patents have been active since the company’s foundation in the 1990’s and have caused several lawsuits due to their inaccessibility from other genetic testing companies around the world.

When only one company holds a specific patent right over a certain medical o biotech product, there is a direct correlation of absolute control over that specific product from the company. In this case, Myriad Genetics holds these patents and it has established a complete control over the BRCA genetic test where accessibility to the genetic test has been limited due to several factors inherent from its monopolization both medical-wise and commercial-wise.

There are two main genes here known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 1 and breast cancer gene 2). One of the largest limitations to the BRCA genetic test is its prohibitive cost to the majority of women who are in risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, especially those in developing nations in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Angelina Jolie has expressed concern about the inability from these large groups of women to obtain the test and carefully examine their conditions and plans of action to reduce or prevent the development of breast and ovarian cancer. Since only company, Myriad Genetics, offers the BRCA genetic test, it is clear that there is an existent monopoly over the BRCA genetic test availability and thousands of lives at stake.

An estimated 1% of all women carry this particular genetic mutation related to the BRCA gene. Angelina Jolie has given an encouragement that it is important for women to undergo a BRCA genetic test before the age of 35 and to impose regulations about the monopolization about this industry to make the test more accessible and affordable at the same time. With further research, development, investments and public interest, the BRCA genetic testing will rapidly evolve to a more accessible form of genetic test and become widespread in those locations where women are in need of it.



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