June 13, 2013 11:28 am
A major victory for Joanna Rudnick and the American Civil Liberties Union! On June 13, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Myriad Genetics regarding the legality of gene patents. Myriad held the patents to the BRCA1 and 2 mutations, which significantly raise the likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Our film In The Family addressed this issue in 2008 and helped raise awareness of the movement that led to this final decision.
Myriad co-founder Mark Skolnick notably gave one of his only on-camera interviews to Joanna Rudnick for In The Family, in which he argued for the use of gene patents but did not have an answer as to why the cost of the tests were so high. Owning the patent on the mutations gave Myriad a monopoly on testing, giving more control over research and how much they could charge women for tests. Joanna described the Supreme Court decision as "a historic day for the BRCA community!"
Since In The Family, Joanna has developed breast cancer and has undergone a mastectomy. Despite recovering from surgery, Joanna has continued to show her support of the ACLU and other cancer support groups. After actress Angelina Jolie published an op-ed piece detailing her own decision to undergo preventive surgery due to having the BRCA1 mutation, Joanna hit the print and the airwaves to show her support of Jolie and for further awareness of the mutations and Myriad's patents that bind them.
Joanna will be on WBEZ at 4:45pm and again at 6:20pm to talk about the film, this momentous decision, and her own journey of dealing with her BRCA1 mutation. Read an interview with Joanna about how the verdict was a sweet present on her 39th birthday. She is also quoted in the Wall St. Journal due to her involvement in the next battle around BRCA - a movement to #freethedata of all those who have been tested by Myriad back into the public domain.
To celebrate this event and keep the public informed of the human cost of gene patents, In The Family has again been made available online for free on PBS's P.O.V website!