Why Can’t Consumers Order Their Own Chest X-Rays???
Okay, that question is sort of tongue in cheek. But it reflects the spirit expressed by the MD Whistleblower in this post about consumer genetic testing kits like 23andme. I think he makes a really good point. We don’t let patients order up any other diagnostic tests on their own. SO. Why do we allow them to dive head first into the complicated area of genetic testing. Sure, it might be amusing to find out what your percentage of Neanderthal heritage is. BUT. What does the average patient do when she is informed that she has a genetic predisposition to a serious malady? There is good reason, the blogger points out, for professional genetic counseling, of which there is none with these consumer kits.
Bottom Line. Interesting moral dilemma here. Should genetic testing companies be precluded from cluing us in to our genetic predisposition to such conditions as Alzheimer’s, especially since there is nothing to be done about a high risk here anyway? Maybe!
A couple of interesting asides here round out the picture. We are increasingly seeing these genetic databases being used to blow the whistle on criminal blood relatives of those who have been tested. Think of the draconian 1984esque possible ramifications of that one!
AND. The blogger also sees risk in the genetic testing companies selling their databases to pharmaceutical companies. Picture the manufacturers of Namenda being able to buy a list of 1,000,000 people with high genetic risk of dementia to enable them to mount the ultimate targeted DTC campaign.
Maybe some Governmental controls should be considered here!!!