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Did the GAO Miss the Boat on DTC Genetic Testing?

Genomes Unzipped's Luke Jostins, Katherine Morley, and Daniel MacArthur say the GAO's sting on the DTC genetic testing industry was a "missed opportunity" to systematically evaluate the industry and find ways to make it better. The GAO report is prefaced by this statement: "GAO did not conduct a scientific study but instead documented observations that could be made by any consumer." And that, the bloggers say, is part of the problem — if the GAO had added a little more "scientific rigour to their investigation," the data they collected could have provided real insight instead of reporting things that were "already largely known." The main message of the study, that different companies can come up with different results for the same patient, had already been discovered, according to Jostins, Morley, and MacArthur. "The investigation could have moved beyond a simple comparison of numbers to explore the actual basis for the discrepancies: to what extent are these due to differences in the markers used, the risk prediction algorithms employed, or the epidemiological literature used to define population risk estimates?" they add. If the GAO could make their raw data available to the scientific community however, they note, researchers could make detailed assessments of each company and product, which would make the investigation more worthwhile.

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