By David Rivkin Jr. and Andrew Grossman
Did you know that you cannot be trusted with knowledge of your own genetic background? That’s what the Food and Drug Administration decreed late last month when it ordered 23andMe to stop marketing its Personal Genome Service.
23andMe is at the cutting edge of mass-market genomics. For $99 the company tests a saliva sample to identify genetic markers that correspond to various conditions and predispositions, as well as ancestry. Based on these markers, the company produces a report describing genetic health risks and inherited traits, along with citations to the research that backs up its analysis and the current scientific “confidence” for each point.
The FDA does not claim that 23andMe is a scam or could cause direct injury. Instead, its concern is that people using the genome service may begin to self-manage their treatments. Essentially, the agency wants to “protect” patients from knowing about their own health.
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