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21st Century Lesbian Trailer Trash

These are the mad musings of a middle aged woman, dyke, nurse, poet. I have a dog, a cat, a mobile home, and delusions of grandeur.

Location: California, United States

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Breast Cancer Screw You Fest

So our friend Twisty over at I Blame the Patriarchy has been dealing with breast cancer for awhile now. Being that she is so young, she dished out something like $4,000 to be tested for the BRCA2 gene. Which she has. Which means she has some heavy duty surgery ahead.

But that's not the worst part. Here is Sola's response to Twisty's entry:

Jun 11th, 2006 at 9:41 am

Here’s one way the patriarchy comes into it: BRCA2 has been patented by Myriad, the company that “found” it. This means lots of things, including:

Myriad owns a little speck in each and every one of your cells. Thanks to our “everything is a product” mindset, if someone can make money from a gene, they can claim to own it and sell rights to it. Never mind that the gene is in your body and is in fact inseparable from you.

Since they “own” the gene, Myriad gets to charge whatever the hell they want to charge for the test that identifies it. This charge doesn’t appear to be based on the actual costs they incur in doing the test. Instead, it seems to be based on what women are willing to pay.

Myriad did a market research in about 1997, when the test was new. They had a contractor call high-risk women, including me, to ask them how much they would be willing to pay for such a test. They wanted to know how desperate we were to find out the truth and how much we would fork over to get the answer. (I told them I wouldn’t pay them one f*ing dime.) They don’t give a shit about whether our insurance will or won’t pay for the test. They just want to know what price they can get from their market.

This means that each and every one of us is being held hostage by this biotech company. Most insurance companies won't pay for the test. It would seem that it is cheaper to treat some of us while we are dying than it is to test all of us who might fall into the risk group. Here's a little something I found over at the link provided by Sola:

Myriad has received patents for two genes, BRCA-1 and BRCA-2, used to perform a cancer screening tests. According to the firm's SEC Form 10-K, "BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 appear to be responsible for approximately 84% of the early onset hereditary breast cancer and approximately 90% of hereditary ovarian cancer." Myriad has licensed the rights to perform these tests to about a dozen laboratories in exchange for very high royalties on each test performed. (The federal government brokered a deal to pay lower royalties when the genes are used by NCI and NIH-sponsored research institutions and investigators.) Myriad is currently trying to enforce patents on the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes in Europe and Canada, which is has led to a lot of controversy in their public health communities because this would raise the price of testing for cancer considerably.

Just a little something to take with your morning coffee.


Blogger ~ nellenelle said...

Unfortunately it is about what I expect, especially when it comes to women's bodies.

A slightly different but sort of related story, which I'd not put on my blog due to prying, apparently adversarial eyes from someone I work with...

anyway, there is a company going around buying up smaller cos that act as agents for employers on unemployment claims. This company now has formed a subsidiary that is attempting to charge state agencies for giving us information on a person's work and separation from work. Under our law... we can simply pay the claimants, charging the employer's accounts, which will not set well with that company's clientele... and we can pull their right to represent cos in the state.

So where we are here to provide a service, a company is attempting to charge for information which was free, and which would inflate the costs of the whole damn system. You can bet they must have political connections... stay tuned.

Not to derail your post, it is an important topic, and it riles me so to have people treated this way... but then society apparently is inclined to think we don't own our bodies.

6:08 PM PDT  

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