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Limits urged on genetic testing

Britain's House of Lords has advised strict limits on genetic testing, including an increase in their perceived risk, in order to limit costs from consumers getting their own tests and waving the results around, demanding service.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

Britain's House of Lords has advised strict limits on genetic testing, including an increase in their perceived risk, in order to limit costs from consumers getting their own tests and waving the results around, demanding service.

(Picture from the University of Dundee, Scotland.)

The issue has not yet been joined in the U.S., but it doubtless will be, as companies like 23andme drive genetic testing into consumer markets and healthcare reform pushes questions of what can be done into the realm of public policy.

The British paper may, however, benefit companies like deCODE, that are looking to conduct tests on specific risks in conjunction with doctors and hospitals.

That report is already on the Parliament's Web site, as a PDF file. It calls for a voluntary code of practices aimed at outlawing unproven claims and giving consumers counseling to help with negative results.

The Commons must still implement any recommendations, including production of a white paper on genomic medicine, which would guide further action.

The Lords committee was headed by Narendra Patel, chancellor of the University of Dundee, and a 71 year old obstetrician based on Scotland who took the name Baron Patel, of Dunkeld in Perth and Kinross in 1999.

What seems most important about the report is how it highlights the impact genetic tests can have on health care costs, and the risks (beyond the obvious) such tests hold in the consumer market.

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