Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Andraka's medical innovation shows that inventors have an incentive to get patents "too early"

There has been some attention to the fact that teen researcher Jack Andraka got a patent for his new test for proteins associated with early pancreatic cancer, even as early as age 16 in early 2013, as with this story on WTOP.
In my review of Jack Andraka’s book “Breakthrough” (March 18, 2015, Book reviews blog), I noted the controversy documented on some websites that Andraka had sought a patent even before publishing a peer-reviewed paper or official testing by the FDA.
But apparently, lawyers do encourage inventors go get patents as soon as possible on medical devices, even if it may take years to get them approved for commercial use.  Maybe that’s to protect the inventor from copycats.  It’s easy to imagine how that could be a problem with medicine and pharmaceuticals. 
In the meantime, Mr. Andraka can look forward to starting the “adult life” (to quote the WB series “Jack and Bobby”) with four years at Stanford (and meet Mark Zuckerberg nearby), and then presumably four years of medical school.  It’s hard for anyone, even a “Clark Kent” from another planet, to beat this schedule.
Developing a commercially viable clinical test is certainly indicative of great workplace habits, attention to detail in finishing a repetitive set of tests.  College and medical school (like high school) is about something else, absorbing huge amounts of information and being tested on it, as well as problem-solving (for the workplace, later). 

Update: April 9

On the NBC Today show, Jack was quoted as saying that it should take about five years for the FDA process for approving the test for regular use to take place.  I don't know if the formal tests have started yet.