Myriad holds monopoly for BRCA1/BRCA2 testing

July 1, 2007

Myriad Genetics is the only place to go for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation testing. The Salt Lake City biopharmaceutical company has a monopoly on the test. Its scientists discovered the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in 1996 and patented their use for assessing the risk of genetically related cancer.

Myriad Genetics is the only place to go for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation testing. The Salt Lake City biopharmaceutical company has a monopoly on the test. Its scientists discovered the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in 1996 and patented their use for assessing the risk of genetically related cancer.

According to a Myriad spokesperson, 50,000 BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic tests were performed in 2006, compared with 35,000 in 2005. The firm expects demand to rise again about 43% this year. The automated gene sequencing technology covers 85% to 90% of genetically related breast cancer. Results from about 15 of every 100 tests are positive.

Testing charges vary. It costs $3200 to test the first person in a family, according to Robert Resta, a genetic counselor with Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Testing first-degree relatives-parents, siblings, and children-costs an additional $400 per person. For Ashkenazi Jews, the test costs about $500 because their susceptibility is based on fewer mutations than the general population, thereby requiring a simpler test, Resta said.