Tuesday, June 17, 2008

California Issues Cease-and-Desist Notices to Genetic Testing Companies

The state of California's Department of Public Health issued cease-and-desist letters to thirteen companies last week that market genetic testing directly to consumers, according to an Associated Press report. Among the companies issued the letters was 23andMe, co-founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Apparently, customers have complained about the tests' accuracy and cost (which are posted, so they shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone). The companies have two weeks to prove that their labs are certified by Federal and California state regulators and must show that the tests they are selling (in California, at least) have been ordered by a doctor. Apparently in California, you don't get to know anything about your own genetics unless a doctor gives permission.

While I agree that the FDA should step up enforcement to ensure the accuracy of the tests (it would suck to get info that you're going to die of some degenerative disease, live your life like you're about to die, and then discover later that you don't have anything wrong with you... but you've already blown your retirement account), I don't think the state or the Federal government can regulate people's right to know things about themselves. I hope that at least one of the thirteen companies receiving notices in California (and nearly two dozen in New York similary notified in April) steps up and sues for the rights of the consumers.

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