Patenting the Human Body

Harriet Washington explains the “life patent” gold rush and why she thinks it will have harmful, and even lethal, consequences for public health. The United States Patent Office has granted at least 40,000 patents so far on genes controlling the most basic processes of human life. In Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself—and the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future she examines the legal, ethical, and social bases for pharmaceutical companies’ position that such patents are necessary.