Human Genes Cannot Be Patented
Lab-created molecules are patent-eligible under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling
and on Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that human genes cannot be
patented however, the court approved the synthetic version of the gene material
may be patented. Supreme Justices said, a naturally occurring piece of DNA is “a
product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.”
The biotechnology industry warned that a ruling against Myriad Genetics would
threaten billions of dollars in investment.
Myriad Genetics (MYGN) was the center of the case since they were granted
patents for isolating two human genes - BRCA1 and BRCA2 - that indicate a higher
risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad markets tests for the genes. Myriad
before the ruling said they only wanted to patent the molecules of DNA that it
creates in the lab to test patients and determine their cancer risks. Since the
late 1990's, Myriad has tested more than 1 million women for mutations that
often lead to breast and ovarian cancer. Stunning actress Angelina Jolie carried
the gene BRCA1 and after the test that she was at higher risk of developing
breast cancer, chose to have a double mastectomy. The cost of the test include
$3,340 for the breast cancer analysis plus $700 for an additional test that
picks up a genetic link in nearly 10% of women who test negative during their
first test. Shares of Myriad were 11% higher into early afternoon trading on
The court and opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas said that while Myriad had
found something important and useful ruled that “groundbreaking, innovative or
even brilliant discovery” does not by itself guarantee a patent. Justice Elena
Kagan said, “What does Myriad get out of this deal? Why shouldn’t we worry that
Myriad or companies like it will just say, well, you know, we’re not going to do
this work anymore?"
Over 4,000 human genes have already been granted patents by the U.S. government,
mostly to firms and universities. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has
granted more than 40,000 patents tied to genetic material since 1984.
Mary-Claire King, the geneticist who in 1990 discovered the abnormality on
chromosome 17 that proved to be the so-called breast cancer gene said, "It is
splendid news for patients, for physicians, for scientists and for common sense.
The marketplace will now be open."
Revlon Inc. (REV: NYSE) has been fined $850,000 by the Securities and Exchange
Commission for allegedly misleading shareholders during a going-private
transaction. Allegedly per the SEC, Revlon deprived its independent board
members from knowing that the transaction's consideration had been deemed
inadequate by a third party. Associate director in the SEC's enforcement
division, Antonia Chion said that by erecting informational barriers, Revlon
kept critically important information from its board and in turn, misled
investors. Reportedly in 2009 when Revlon's majority shareholder MacAndrews and
Forbes Holdings Inc, controlled by billionaire Ronald Perelman, asked Revlon to
give minority shareholders a chance to tender their common shares for preferred
stock, as part of a plan to pay down Revlon debt. An outside adviser hired by
trustee for Revlon's 401(k) retirement plan concluded that the swap was not fair
to tendering shareholders, per reports from SEC. Also per the SEC, Revlon
reportedly took steps to conceal the adviser's opinion from its independent
directors and 401(k) participants, the result was a series of materially
misleading disclosures to shareholders, including that the board had properly
reviewed the tender offer.
UK Corporate Tax...
A U.K. parliamentary committee made up of lawmakers from the U.K.’s main
political parties said Thursday that Google Inc. (GOOG: NASDAQ) has aggressively
avoided paying corporation tax in Britain. Just last month, the U.K. committee
grilled Matt Brittin, one of Google's top executives in Europe for two hours. A
Google spokesperson said the company complies with all tax rules in the U.K and
said, “It’s clear from this report that the public accounts committee wants to
see international companies paying more tax where their customers are located,
but that’s not how the rules operate today. We welcome the call to make the
current system simpler and more transparent.”
In the latest sign that governments around the world are stepping up scrutiny of
the tax affairs of multinational firms, U.K. said Google's reputation will not
be restored until the Internet search giant begins to pay, what is due. The
public affairs committee criticized the U.K. tax authority - Her Majesty’s
Revenue and Customs - in a 64-page report containing strong words, for failing
to challenge Google about its “highly contrived” tax arrangement and called on
it to fully investigate the Internet giant.
The committee said tax avoidance by multinational firms was evident of wider
problems and urged the U.K. government to strengthen HMRC. The committee also
request a simplification of the tax code to reduce loopholes firms exploit. Main
accounting firms were criticized for helping clients utilize loopholes to
establish artificial tax structures.
Imports and Exports...
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday that prices paid for imported goods
fell 0.6% during May, striking the third month of declines, led lower by fuel
which fell 1.9%. Excluding fuel, import prices fell by 0.3% during May to mark
the largest drop since July 2012. Import prices declined 1.9% over the past 12
months. The price of U.S. made exported goods fell 0.5% during May, led by
nonagricultural prices. Export prices fell 0.9% over the past 12 months.
U.S. Department of Labor reported the number of people who applied for new
regular state unemployment-insurance benefits for week ended June 8, fell 12,000
to 334,000, reaching the lowest level since early May, pointing to a slower pace
of layoffs. Over four weeks, average new claims fell by 7,250 to 345,250.
Continuing claims moved higher by 2,000 to 2.97 million with the four-week
average of continuing claims falling 12,750 to 2.97 million, striking the lowest
level since April 2008.
U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday that U.S. retail sales, which
account for nearly one-third of consumer spending, rose a seasonally adjusted
0.6% in May at the fastest rate in three months or when exclude the auto sector
sales rose by 0.3%. Excluding fuel sales at gasoline stations, retail sales were
up 0.6%. Commerce saw a rise in sales for auto dealers, grocery stores, Internet
retailers and suppliers of building materials. Commerce saw a decline in sales
for appliances, bars, clothes, electronics, home furnishings and restaurants.
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June 13, 2013