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Biotechs following Supreme Court gene ruling: What, us worry?

Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ Anna Protopapas says the ruling won’t clog the company’s drug pipeline. (Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe)

Some biotechnology companies have grumbled about the legal challenge to their right to patent genes, arguing that taking away that right could impede innovation. But now that the US Supreme Court has ruled companies can’t patent genes, the decision has been largely met with a collective shrug from the biopharmaceutical industry.

That’s because the high court ruling continues to allow drug companies to patent the technologies that enable them to turn genetic research into medicines. The latest industry executive to weigh in is Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ new president, Anna Protopapas, who said in an interview that the court decision won’t affect her Cambridge company’s pipeline of cancer drugs in late-stage clinical trials nor its early-stage research on new experimental therapies.

“It’s my understanding that the decision was quite narrow,” Protopapas said. “The focus of Millennium has always been on understanding how to use biological information in genes to develop meaningful drugs. And that won’t change.”

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