Science

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A screenshot from the HairDX Web site.

California Takes Action Against Genetic Testing Companies

June 24, 2008 02:08 PM
by Josh Katz
Monday marked a state-issued deadline requiring California companies to stop direct-to-consumer sales for genetic tests, with only one company, HairDX, complying with the order.

30-Second Summary

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HairDX claims to assess a client’s risk of balding through the use of genetic tests. Following the advice of legal counsel, it has heeded the cease-and-desist letter that it received from the state's health department on June 9, and will now require California and New York residents to consult a doctor before ordering their tests.

California’s health department sent out the letters two weeks ago to 13 genetic-testing companies, requesting responses by June 23. Only four companies, HairDX, Navigenics, 23andMe and DNATraits, have confirmed receiving the letter, and HairDX is in the only one to comply so far.

Recently, genetic testing companies have garnered much attention, purporting to indicate a person’s genetic predispositions by mapping parts, and sometimes all of, their DNA. As prices drop below the $1,000 mark for some tests, states and medical professionals have expressed concern that people ordering tests on their own might make rash decisions with this newfound knowledge, including major lifestyle changes.

N.Y. State's Department of Health has also sought regulation of this new scientific field, threatening legal recourse to genetic testing-firms lacking permits.
 
“Overall, 24 states prohibit or limit so-called direct-access testing without a doctor or other medical professional's involvement,” according to Forbes.

However, Thomas Goetz of Wired contends that an individual’s genetic information should not be regulated by the state, however: “we neither want nor assume that doctors should have a gatekeeper role in establishing whether we are or are not pregnant… So too with DNA.”

Headline Link: ‘DNA Testing Company Stops Direct-to-Consumer Sales in California’

Background: California and New York tighten regulations

Related Topic: The personal genetic testing phenomenon

Opinion & Analysis: The genetic testing issue

The implications of genetic testing
Against California’s decision
For California’s decision
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