Tuesday, December 17, 2013

23 and ?

The FDA has suppressed 23&me's supplying of health related genetic data - an outrage in my view - but apparently they can still supply ancestry data. Since that's more interesting to me anyway, I intend to subscribe, but I was pretty annoyed when I found out they could no longer supply the health data.

Scott Aaronson discusses the issues.

If you’re the sort of person who reads this blog, you may have heard that 23andMe—the company that (until recently) let anyone spit into a capsule, send it away to a DNA lab, and then learn basic information about their ancestry, disease risks, etc.—has suspended much of its service, on orders from the US Food and Drug Administration. As I understand it, on Nov. 25, the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop marketing to new customers (though it can still serve existing customers), and on Dec. 5, the company stopped offering new health-related information to any customers (though you can still access the health information you had before, and ancestry and other non-health information is unaffected).

Of course, the impact of these developments is broader: within a couple weeks, “do-it-yourself genomics” has gone from an industry whose explosive growth lots of commentators took as a given, to one whose future looks severely in doubt (at least in the US).

I tend to see it as one more example of the medical industry fighting to preserve their monopoly.