Tuesday, July 25, 2006

At Home DNA Tests: Marketing Scam or Medical Breakthrough?

For those who are into this sort of thing (like me), here's some interesting news: This Thursday, July 27th, there's going to be a Senate hearing on the lack of oversight of genetic testing. It comes at the end of a year-long investigation into the safety and reliability of genetic tests offered to consumers via the Internet. The hearing is called: “At Home DNA Tests: Marketing Scam or Medical Breakthrough?” It will be at 10 a.m., July 27, in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building. I encourage all to go (especially you journalists out there -- this is a great story I'd be all over if I weren't on a writing retreat in the middle of nowhere).

Kathy Huson, director of The Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins, who's been a source for several of my stories, will be testifying that a lack of oversight of genetic testing has created a situation where, “there is no way for a consumer to distinguish between the dubious and the decent” when it comes to the tests, and the labs offering them. “At best," she says, "consumers may be wasting their money” At worst, “they may be foregoing medically appropriate treatment or undertaking medically dubious treatment.”

The event will also include testimony from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration. And the Government Accountability Office will be releasing the results of their year-long investigation at the hearing. Should be a good time. I'll post details when they're available.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the bit where the CEO of one company tried to defend how its chief scientist was a plastic surgeon with no nutrition or genetics training

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Bryn Williams-Jones said...

You might be interested in the growing bioethics literature on commercial genetic technologies. A good starting point is Genethics.ca page (http://www.genethics.ca). For specific studies on DTC genetic testing and the Internet, check out articles by Gollust and Williams-Jones.

6:20 PM  

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