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Few Eyebrows Up

Some experts have raised concerned about 23andMe's new direct-to-consumer pharmacogenetic tests, Time reports.

The US Food and Drug Administration earlier this week gave 23andMe authorization to sell tests for 33 variants linked to the ability to break down certain drugs, as GenomeWeb has reported.

"Historically, there hasn't necessarily been a convenient way to access that information," Kathy Hibbs, chief legal and regulatory officer at 23andMe, tells Time. "We want to make this proactively available to individuals so it will ultimately become convenient when, and if, they ever do need any of these medications."

The FDA cautioned, according to GenomeWeb, that these tests do not actually tell whether someone will or will not respond to a particular drug and don't determine if a drug is appropriate for a patient.

Rebecca Sutphen, co-founder and chief medical officer of InformedDNA, tells Time that though some gene variants have been linked to drug metabolism, how that should affect prescriptions isn't yet clear. Kim Schahl, a certified genetic counselor there, notes that most people don't need this information and, if they do, Sutphen adds a clinical test would be more appropriate for basing medical decisions on.

"Where there are indications for people to get genetic testing, there are clear guidelines and targeted tests and genetic counseling to help interpret that information in the context of your personal needs and family history," Sutphen says.