Constructing narratives of heroism and villainy: Case study of Myriad's BRACAnalysis® compared to Genentech's Herceptin®

A. L. Baldwin, Robert Cook-Deegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The development of Herceptin® is welcomed as a major advance in breast cancer treatment, while Myriad's development of BRACAnalysis® is a widely used diagnostic. However useful and successful this product is, its presence in the public eye is tainted by predominantly negative press about gene patenting and business practices.Discussion: While retrospection invites a sharp contrast between Genentech's triumphal narrative of scientific achievement and Myriad's public image as a controversial monopolist, a comparative history of these companies' products reveals two striking consistencies: patents and public discontent. Despite these similarities, time has reduced the narrative to that of hero versus villain: Genentech is lauded - at least for the final outcome of the Herceptin® story - as a corporate good citizen, Myriad as a ruthless mercenary. Since patents undergird both products yet the narratives are so different, the stories raise the question: why have patents taken the fall as the scapegoat in current biotechnology policy debate?Summary: A widely publicized lawsuit and accompanying bad press have cast Myriad as a villain in the evolving narrative of biotechnology. While the lawsuit suggests that this villainy is attributable to Myriad's intellectual property, we suggest through a comparative case study that, at least in the Myriad case, it is not simply about the patents but also other business strategies the company chose to pursue. Patents were a necessary but not sufficient cause of controversy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalGenome Medicine
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 31 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Patents
Biotechnology
Intellectual Property
Courage
Trastuzumab
Breast Neoplasms
Genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine

Cite this

@article{e025256a33f5426ea8b00f9eed274ede,
title = "Constructing narratives of heroism and villainy: Case study of Myriad's BRACAnalysis{\circledR} compared to Genentech's Herceptin{\circledR}",
abstract = "Background: The development of Herceptin{\circledR} is welcomed as a major advance in breast cancer treatment, while Myriad's development of BRACAnalysis{\circledR} is a widely used diagnostic. However useful and successful this product is, its presence in the public eye is tainted by predominantly negative press about gene patenting and business practices.Discussion: While retrospection invites a sharp contrast between Genentech's triumphal narrative of scientific achievement and Myriad's public image as a controversial monopolist, a comparative history of these companies' products reveals two striking consistencies: patents and public discontent. Despite these similarities, time has reduced the narrative to that of hero versus villain: Genentech is lauded - at least for the final outcome of the Herceptin{\circledR} story - as a corporate good citizen, Myriad as a ruthless mercenary. Since patents undergird both products yet the narratives are so different, the stories raise the question: why have patents taken the fall as the scapegoat in current biotechnology policy debate?Summary: A widely publicized lawsuit and accompanying bad press have cast Myriad as a villain in the evolving narrative of biotechnology. While the lawsuit suggests that this villainy is attributable to Myriad's intellectual property, we suggest through a comparative case study that, at least in the Myriad case, it is not simply about the patents but also other business strategies the company chose to pursue. Patents were a necessary but not sufficient cause of controversy.",
author = "Baldwin, {A. L.} and Robert Cook-Deegan",
year = "2013",
month = "1",
day = "31",
doi = "10.1186/gm412",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "5",
journal = "Genome Medicine",
issn = "1756-994X",
publisher = "BioMed Central",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Constructing narratives of heroism and villainy

T2 - Case study of Myriad's BRACAnalysis® compared to Genentech's Herceptin®

AU - Baldwin, A. L.

AU - Cook-Deegan, Robert

PY - 2013/1/31

Y1 - 2013/1/31

N2 - Background: The development of Herceptin® is welcomed as a major advance in breast cancer treatment, while Myriad's development of BRACAnalysis® is a widely used diagnostic. However useful and successful this product is, its presence in the public eye is tainted by predominantly negative press about gene patenting and business practices.Discussion: While retrospection invites a sharp contrast between Genentech's triumphal narrative of scientific achievement and Myriad's public image as a controversial monopolist, a comparative history of these companies' products reveals two striking consistencies: patents and public discontent. Despite these similarities, time has reduced the narrative to that of hero versus villain: Genentech is lauded - at least for the final outcome of the Herceptin® story - as a corporate good citizen, Myriad as a ruthless mercenary. Since patents undergird both products yet the narratives are so different, the stories raise the question: why have patents taken the fall as the scapegoat in current biotechnology policy debate?Summary: A widely publicized lawsuit and accompanying bad press have cast Myriad as a villain in the evolving narrative of biotechnology. While the lawsuit suggests that this villainy is attributable to Myriad's intellectual property, we suggest through a comparative case study that, at least in the Myriad case, it is not simply about the patents but also other business strategies the company chose to pursue. Patents were a necessary but not sufficient cause of controversy.

AB - Background: The development of Herceptin® is welcomed as a major advance in breast cancer treatment, while Myriad's development of BRACAnalysis® is a widely used diagnostic. However useful and successful this product is, its presence in the public eye is tainted by predominantly negative press about gene patenting and business practices.Discussion: While retrospection invites a sharp contrast between Genentech's triumphal narrative of scientific achievement and Myriad's public image as a controversial monopolist, a comparative history of these companies' products reveals two striking consistencies: patents and public discontent. Despite these similarities, time has reduced the narrative to that of hero versus villain: Genentech is lauded - at least for the final outcome of the Herceptin® story - as a corporate good citizen, Myriad as a ruthless mercenary. Since patents undergird both products yet the narratives are so different, the stories raise the question: why have patents taken the fall as the scapegoat in current biotechnology policy debate?Summary: A widely publicized lawsuit and accompanying bad press have cast Myriad as a villain in the evolving narrative of biotechnology. While the lawsuit suggests that this villainy is attributable to Myriad's intellectual property, we suggest through a comparative case study that, at least in the Myriad case, it is not simply about the patents but also other business strategies the company chose to pursue. Patents were a necessary but not sufficient cause of controversy.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84873034661&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84873034661&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1186/gm412

DO - 10.1186/gm412

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84873034661

VL - 5

JO - Genome Medicine

JF - Genome Medicine

SN - 1756-994X

IS - 1

M1 - 8

ER -