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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Patenting Pharmaceutical Protocols and Dietary Interventions?

Around a month ago, I was alerted to Jeff Volek's involvement with a company called UCAN that markets sports drinks containing SuperStarch.    I blogged on this here.  The SS is touted as being made by a "patent pending" heat/moisture process.  So a little digging was done by Lerner and then I followed the trail, and lo and behold, Volek himself is not on the patent app for SS -- that is the Scottish company that developed it.  No, Volek's patent is (links in comments on that post):  
 "The present invention is directed to a method of controlling serum insulin levels in an individual, the method comprising the step of administering to the individual a food composition comprising heat and moisture treated starch (HMT starch)."
Now I questioned this in the comments.  What would the meaning be of such a permit?  Nobody else could administer UCAN to fat-adapted ultra-marathon runners?  It makes no sense.

More recently as I was looking for an article in Google Scholar, I came across patent apps by a few MD researchers describing the use of a particular drug or drugs in the treatment of certain conditions.  Now I can understand being able to patent a medical procedure or device.  And I certainly understand patents for pharmaceuticals.  But prescribing them?  These patents were not in conjunction with a pharmaceutical company (and they often continue to apply for novel formulations and "indicated uses" - as opposed to off label) , they were in the name of an MD -- "use of X or X&Y in the treatment of Z".  Now IF such a patent were awarded, what would that mean?  If my doctor prescribed the readily available drugs in doses shown in some study to be effective -- even if they've already been evaluated for effectiveness, suitable dosages, etc. by the pharma company -- they'd have to put "Jones Protocol" on the script pad or something??  

So I'm just putting this out there out of curiosity.  Am I missing something here?  Or is my (and others') hunch right, that this is more about the ability to claim "patent pending", and counting on the general ignorance of the public as to what that really means.  Perhaps they open a clinic and can advertise "patent pending" cutting edge protocols for treating some malady.  Similar to the way Volek is promoting the "novel" UCAN with all its specialness, that turns out to be nothing so novel after all.  Makes sense?


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