Several recent gene patent controversies have energized and refocused the human gene patent debate in Canada. These include the use of the Myriad test for breast cancer by the provinces, patenting of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus and a recent Supreme Court decision rejecting the patenting of ‘higher life forms’. These cases place the emerging policy conflicts between the innovation and commercialization agenda of the government and the desire to provide equitable access to health care in sharp focus. Another challenge faced by Canada is the powerful influence of the United States in policy decisions. Although these issues have raised awareness about the possibility of reforming the patent system, Parliament has yet to consider any of the suggested reforms of the Canadian patent system and there are no formal proposals pending.

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