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US Congress Reconsiders Genomics Act

In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act to the US Congress. Now, the bill is being reintroduced as GPMA 2010 as a response to growing public awareness of genomic tests, according to Genomics Law Report's Dan Vorhaus and Meggan Bushee. The act aims to expand and accelerate genomic research to improve disease diagnosis and to expand the use of personalized medicine, among other things. In addition, it would create an Office of Personalized Healthcare within HHS and appropriate $150 million in 2011 to achieve those goals. "GPMA 2010 recognizes the need for greater cross-agency coordination and for a centralized task force to direct the implementation of GPMA initiatives," Vorhaus and Bushee write. The act also calls for the creation of a biobank to include health information, demographic genotype, molecular profile data, and environmental data, they add. But as ambitious as the bill is, and while it's quite different from the bill Obama introduced in 2006, Vorhaus and Bushee don't think it's likely to become law in its current form. "Among other considerations, the recent (and ongoing) developments in the areas of laboratory developed tests and DTC genetic testing ... suggest that substantial revisions would be required to reflect an ever-changing technological, commercial and regulatory environment," they write. Genomic bills, they point out, take a long time to become law — the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act took 13 years from the date it was proposed to be signed into law. "After a mere five years, the GPMA likely has a long way to go," Vorhaus and Bushee say.

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