BIO Members Testify before House Judiciary Subcommittee

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2000) -- Executives from two Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) member companies testified today at a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee oversight hearing on gene patents and other genomic inventions.

In his written testimony, Dr. Randal W. Scott, Incyte Genomics president and chief scientific officer, said, " Our mission is to revolutionize health by providing genomic information to researchers and consumers through a worldwide network of collaborators. Our goal is to help provide scientists with an understanding of the molecular basis for all major human diseases within 10 years.

"The patent system is designed to create incentives for invention and nowhere is its role more apparent than in the case of genomic inventions," Scott added. "Existing patent guidelines, which have spurred the tremendous advances we've recently seen in medical research, must remain intact to ensure continued discovery."

In his testimony, Dr. Dennis J. Henner, Genentech senior vice president of research, observed, "We are confident that the patent system will be able to properly adapt and respond to the unique issues that are arising in the genomics research field. The initial place for evolution to occur is in the Patent and Trademark Office and in the federal courts."

Henner said he would not support legislative action to alter the requirements for patentability.

The complete statements of Scott and Henner are available on BIO's Web site, www.bio.org, in Issues & Policies under Testimony and Comments. A special BIO report on gene-based patents, titled "Primer: Genome and Genetic Research, Patent Protection and 21st Century Medicine," is posted in Issues & Policies under Genomics.

Today's oversight hearing was conducted by the House Judiciary Subcommitee on Courts and Intellectual Property. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Patent and Trademark Office, which is considering new guidelines for gene-based patents. BIO's comments, submitted March 22, on the proposed PTO guidelines also are posted in the Issues & Policies section of the Web site under Testimony and Comments.

BIO represents more than 900 companies, academic institutions and biotech centers in 50 states and 26 nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.