Green light for new patent law
Zurich – As of early June, biotech discoveries will enjoy more protection in Switzerland after the parliament voted in favour of a revised patent law. The decision by the senate was in line with that taken by the House of Representatives last year. Leading critics said that the new legislation was a victory for the pharmaceutical industry. The revised law was approved by 27 votes in favour and none against, with seven abstentions after discussions in the Senate focused on how far biotech discoveries should be protected. The government had proposed that a patent involving a DNA sequence should not be restricted to one particular purpose. This was accepted despite arguments that this would lead to monopolistic research created by patent-holders. One of the main critics was Simonetta Sommaruga, head of a consumer foundation, who has pointed to the case of the US-firm Myriad Genetics. The company has mapped the breast-cancer gene BRCA1 and consequently holds a worldwide monopoly on breast cancer tests. This has contributed to a huge price increase, said Sommaruga. Justice Minister Christoph Blocher dismissed this argument, saying that the Myriad case was a one-off and that the new Swiss law would prevent monopolies from taking root.