By Kirell Lakhman
Counsyl has stopped selling its genetic prenatal carrier-screening tests directly to consumers in favor of giving physicians an earlier say in the testing process.
Earlier this month, the Silicon Valley start-up began requiring customers to obtain a physician's order for the test. It also now sends the results directly to the physician for interpretation.
Balaji Srinivasan, Counsyl's chief technology officer, told Julia that the company earlier this month replaced its DTC business model with an online booking system. Under this plan, consumers can make their own test appointment at a clinic of their choice, and provide their own billing information.
When I first wrote about Counsyl in January, I'd said its test could eventually find itself competing with clinical labs in the soon-to-boom genetic carrier-screening market. Its decision to forego a potentially more lucrative market — targeting consumers themselves — certainly moves it closer into the clinical lab orbit.
Adding some heft to this claim was the claim by a well-known diagnostic company this week that its new carrier-screening test would compete directly with Counsyl's assay.
The company, Ambry Genetics, said it will begin offering later this summer a prenatal carrier-screening test that runs on Illumina's Genome Analyzer.
Its AmbryScreen assay is expected to make its debut over the next four to six weeks as Ambry finishes validating it. The $450 LDT will screen for several hundred well-understood disease-causing mutations linked to more than 90 severe or common genetic diseases with pediatric onset.
By comparison, Counsyl's microarray-based Universal Genetic Test costs $349 for an individual and $698 for a couple and screens for more than 100 diseases.