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Transparency in DTC

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies should be transparent about how they come to their risk predictions so that the consumers understand the usefulness of those predictions, says Daniel MacArthur at Genetic Future while drawing from a post by PHG's Caroline Wright. DTC testing shouldn't be banned nor should people have to go through their doctors for such services. Rather, MacArthur says "the answer is to ensure that companies provide at least the minimal information required for customers to make an informed decision about the utility of risk predictions, and to punish those companies who fail to do so with public censure and (if absolutely necessary) regulatory action."

His fellow blogger Mike the Mad Biologist disagrees. "To me, any test that yields either an increased risk or a decreased risk of disease depending on the analysis is not a test that should be used in medicine. This isn't a quantitative difference (which would raise its own issues), but a qualitative one," Mike writes.

In Mike's comments MacArthur clarifies that he is "not arguing that genome scan profiles should be used by doctors, but simply that they should be available to consumers who want them, so long as all of the relevant caveats are spelled out during the purchasing process."

The Scan

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