Wednesday, March 28, 2012
This Week's News
Ruling illustrates Litigation Center's role as protector of physicians' rights
Medicine scored an important victory last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously to invalidate two patents that hampered physicians' ability to access scientific data for use in patient care and research.
The patents, licensed by Prometheus Laboratories, prevented physicians and others from using a medical procedure to determine the appropriate dosage of a drug used to treat autoimmune diseases. In its March 20 decision, the court ruled that the patents impeded physicians' ability to provide quality care by tying up treatment decisions and "threaten[ing] to inhibit the development of more refined treatment recommendations."
"This is a clear legal victory that ensures that critical scientific data will remain widely available for sound patient care and innovative medical research," AMA Board Chair Robert M. Wah, MD, said in a statement.
The outcome might not have been possible without the efforts of the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies—the voice of America's physicians in legal proceedings across the country. Along with 10 other health care organizations, the Litigation Center filed an amicus brief condemning the patents as inappropriate because they extended to unpatentable products of nature, not inventions of man. The court specifically mentioned the brief in its opinion.
The verdict is the latest in a long line of victories for the Litigation Center, a powerful advocate for physicians and medical students. Another recent triumph is medicine's historic settlement with UnitedHealth Group, in which about $200 million in awards will be disbursed to physicians to settle claims for 15 years of artificially low payments that UnitedHealth paid for out-of-network services.
Since its inception, the Litigation Center has lent the capabilities of its experienced health care attorneys to more than 200 cases, many of which have addressed important specialty-specific issues. Its docket of cases ranges across the entire medical-legal landscape and covers such topics as medical staff privileges, scope-of-practice matters, public health issues and meritless medical liability lawsuits.
Many Litigation Center cases have set important legal precedents and have broad, practical applications for the medical profession and patients. Learn more about the Litigation Center and how it can be an advocate for you.