She has hit the headlines for having a double mastectomy, and she had good reason to believe that she was doing the right thing since breast cancer ran in the family. And it ran in family due to the presence of BRCA genes.
She could be sure she had this problem because a test exists. For her, the costs of the test would be in the region of $4000, since in the States the test is run exclusively by Myriad Genetics. This cost is high, given that all of her genes could have been sequenced for $1000. Why is it so high? And what can poor people do if they have reason to believe they might be at risk and want the test?
The problem is that Myriad Genetics own patents for the genes in question, and at the moment they won’t license other companies in the US to carry out the test. Legal proceedings are underway, but as far as I can see they do not challenge the right of an individual or company to take out a patent on part of our common genetic make-up, which surely belongs to us all.
Companies will no doubt refer to research costs which they must be able to recoup. Whatever the solution to this is, it should not be patenting any part of the human body.