#1 Company plans to sell genetic testing kit at drugstores05-11-2010, 12:45 PMCompany plans to sell genetic testing kit at drugstores
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Beginning Friday, shoppers in search of toothpaste, deodorant and laxatives at more than 6,000 drugstores across the nation will be able to pick up something new: a test to scan their genes for a propensity for Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer, diabetes and other ailments.
The test also claims to offer a window into the chances of becoming obese, developing psoriasis and going blind. For those thinking of starting a family, it could alert them to their risk of having a baby with cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs and other genetic disorders. The test also promises users insights into how caffeine, cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood thinners might affect them.
The over-the-counter test marks the first foray of personalized genomic medicine into the corner drugstore. The move is being welcomed by those who hope that deciphering the genetic code will launch a new era in biomedical science.
But it's being feared by those who worry it will open a Pandora's box of confusion, privacy violations, genetic discrimination and other issues.
The new test comes as federal regulators, bioethicists, geneticists, doctors and patients have been increasingly struggling with how to use, interpret, regulate and guard against abuse from the flood of genetic information, tests and technologies being developed because of the massive, government-sponsored Human Genome Project.
For years, companies have been hawking tests on the Internet that can analyze genes for a person's risk of some diseases, and genetic tests for paternity and ancestry have been widely available in stores.
But the plan being announced Tuesday by Pathway Genomics of San Diego to sell its Insight test at about 6,000 of Walgreens' 7,500 stores represents the boldest move yet to bring the power of modern molecular medicine to the mass market.
"It's the first widespread retail availability of genetic tests that are directed specifically at health issues," said Joan A. Scott, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.
The Food and Drug Administration questioned Monday whether the test will be sold legally because it does not have the agency's approval. Critics have said that results will be too vague to provide much useful guidance because so little is known about how to interpret genetic markers.
05-11-2010, 01:19 PM
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they are selling to useful idiots to make money... most people will NEVER have to deal with any of that stuff, it's just a scare tactic to sell something...typical in the allopathic health care field
05-11-2010, 01:36 PM
You can already get them for paternity tests. I know someone who was really p'od because her baby daddy got one and took a strand of hair from the kid during his visitation, and told the kid (who was about 8 at the time) that he was doing it to make sure he was really her daddy.
For disputed paternity issues, the test really should be done by the court.
For genetic testing, I'm kind of torn between a patient's right to know and a patient's need for doctors or medical staff to personally explain risks in conjunction with that particular patient's medical history.
05-11-2010, 01:56 PM
For truly scaring the hell out of people, these test ought to be better than WebMD.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.C. S. Lewis
05-11-2010, 03:48 PM
For the conditions that they mentioned-Tay Sachs and CF-there has been genetic testing for 30+ years, and the first tests didn't involve DNA. The same with Sickle Cell Anemia. Of course back then, if one parent had the dominant gene (or both partners had the recessive gene), they were advised to adopt children. I knew two families in the 70s that had to undergo this testing-one was a family struck by Hunington's Chorea, and the other carried a rare genetic disorder that was similar to CF.
A DNA test would give better odds about a pregnancy, but short of genetic engineering, there is nothing before conception that will promise that the baby won't have the feared condition. The only 100% accurate way to avoid having a child with that disorder is for those two parents (or the one who carries the trait) to not conceive a child together.
05-11-2010, 03:59 PM
For personal decision-making, I can't see what actual use they'd be. While some conditions are more likely when certain gene groups are present, whether or not a condition develops is also heavily influenced by what gene groups are turned off. Or on. All of us carry the right genetic material for at least a dozen fatal conditions (or more) but also carry genetic material that actively turns those genes off.
Some conditions are just too complex to break out this way. Obesity is dependent on food access as well as physical labor. You could have super obesity genetics but as a Bushman in the Kalahari, it would never get expressed. Cardiovascular disease is very complicated. Half of all people who have fatal heart attacks have no risk factors at all.
People will just misuse this. :(
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