The continuing saga of patents and non-invasive prenatal testing

Naomi Hawkins, Dianne Nicol, Subhashini Chandrasekharan, Robert Cook-Deegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: This paper examines the Intellectual Property (IP) landscape for non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) in three key regions: the United States; Europe, with particular focus on the United Kingdom; and Australia. Method: We explore the patent law issues against the commercial and healthcare environment in these regions and consider the implications for development and implementation of NIPT. Results: There are many patents held by many parties internationally, with litigation over these patents ongoing in many countries. Importantly, there are significant international differences in patent law, with patents invalidated in the USA that remain valid in Europe. Despite the many patents and ongoing litigation, there are multiple providers of testing internationally, and patents do not appear to be preventing patient access to testing for those who can pay out of pocket. Conclusion: The patent situation in NIPT remains in a state of flux, with uncertainty about how patent rights will be conferred in different jurisdictions, and how patents might affect clinical access. However, patents are unlikely to result in a monopoly for a single provider, with several providers and testing technologies, including both public and private sector entities, likely to remain engaged in delivery of NIPT. However, the effects on access in public healthcare systems are more complex and need to be monitored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-447
Number of pages7
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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