Myriad slaps Quest with BRCA cancer test patent suit

Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) was probably right to preemptively sue to determine that its new BRCA-related cancer diagnostic test doesn't violate patents held by rival Myriad Genetics ($MYGN). Now, the Utah company has filed its long-expected suit against Quest, alleging patent infringement.

In a statement emailed to FierceMedicalDevices, Myriad spokesman Ronald Rogers confirmed that Myriad and its fellow patent holders are suing Quest in the U.S. District Court in Utah. He said that Myriad and the other plaintiffs believe that Quest is in the wrong and "will demonstrate that the testing process used by Quest infringes those claims."

Including Quest, Myriad is now suing four companies alleging patent violations over its market-leading BRACAnalysis test, which relies on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to measure the risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. In addition to Quest, Bioreference Laboratories, Gene By Gene and Ambry Genetics are facing similar complaints. The latter two companies have already countersued Myriad, alleging violation of federal antitrust laws.

Wendy Bost, Quest's director of media relations, said in a statement that Myriad's latest lawsuit was not surprising.

"The action taken by Myriad was expected and is merely the latest in a pattern of behavior toward any test provider that introduces a new option in BRCA testing that can benefit patients," she said. "Quest Diagnostics is pleased to have introduced BRCAvantage, a new, innovative choice to help at-risk women and men achieve broader access to BRCA testing. We are confident that our offering does not violate any valid Myriad claims. We will vigorously defend, and continue to provide, BRCAvantage to the many patients who seek options in BRCA testing."

Blame the U.S. Supreme Court for opening the door to all the Myriad-related lawsuits and countersuits. Earlier this year, the court invalidated some Myriad patents but upheld others, opening the door to competition in the BRCA test category. All of the companies Myriad is now suing released their own BRCA tests in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Genome Web reported that Myriad is suing New Jersey-based Quest over 8 patents relating to BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and wants a preliminary injunction preventing Quest from selling BRCAvantage. In addition, Myriad is seeking a jury trial, damages and an order that requires Quest to hand over its rival test.

- read the Genome Web story (sub. req.)