Patient wins High Court challenge against company’s cancer gene patent

News

  • Codeine-related deaths have more than doubled in 9 years; most accidental overdose, researchers say 
  • Appointment as Minister for Aged Care and Health announced
  • Health privacy in Australia – new Office of the Australian Information Commissioner ("OAIC") guidance will assist health providers to navigate the legal landscape

Patient wins High Court challenge against company’s cancer gene patent

We previously reported on the High Court appeal from Queensland cancer survivor, Yvonne D’Arcy, against US company, Myriad Genetics, challenging the company’s patent of a hereditary gene associated with increased susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancers.  The Federal Court and Full Court of the Federal Court previously found in Myriad’s favour.

Ms D’Arcy has won the High Court challenge in a unanimous decision with the Court finding that the isolated gene is not a “patentable invention”.

A Medicines Australia media release suggests the High Court decision to disallow patenting of isolated genetic materials causes concern for the innovative medicines sector.

To view the full High Court decision, click here.

To view the Medicines Australia media release, click here.

News

Codeine-related deaths have more than doubled in 9 years; most accidental overdose, researchers say 

Research from the Medical Journal of Australia has shown a spike in codeine-related deaths in Australia, bringing common analgesics under fire.  Researchers are blaming the interaction of codeine with other medications as the lead cause of approximately half of the number of deaths in the group studied.

With codeine-based analgesics being readily available over-the-counter, adverse impacts are widespread when used incorrectly. These can include addiction after prolonged use, as well as gastrointestinal disease, kidney failure and liver toxicity. 

The results of the study are not being taken lightly, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) making an interim decision to up-schedule all codeine-based products to Schedule 4.  The decision, announced on 1 October 2015, came after an application, public submissions and advice from the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling.

Submissions on the interim decision closed on 15 October 2015.  The TGA will make its final decision in November 2015.

To view the TGA press release, click here.

Appointment as Minister for Aged Care and Health announced

Minister for Health, the Honourable Sussan Ley, has extended her portfolio having been appointed as the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport. 

According to the Minister, merging the aged care portfolio with the Ministries of Health and Sport will “complement our integrated health system…” and will “benefit all Australians, particularly those over the age of 65”.

To view the press release, click here.

Health privacy in Australia – new Office of the Australian Information Commissioner ("OAIC") guidance will assist health providers to navigate the legal landscape 

The OAIC has developed a series of draft health privacy resources for health service providers and consumers ("new resources").

The new resources consist of:

  • 11 business resources for health service providers; and
  • fact sheets for consumers.

The new resources will replace the existing OAIC health privacy guidance material and reflect the 2014 changes to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Privacy Principles Guidelines ("APP Guidelines").  While the APP Guidelines provide guidance for agencies and organisations generally, by including health service providers, the new resources offer more detailed guidance on the APPs in a health and research context.

The OAIC sought feedback on the new resources.  The closing date was Tuesday 20 October 2015.

The new resources can be found on the OAIC website here.