Oversight Gaps for Genetic Testing Pose Risks to Public Health

Contact: Mona Miller, 202.552.2135, Rick Borchelt, 202.663.5978

Washington, D.C. - 07/27/2006 - At the invitation of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Genetics and Public Policy Center Director Kathy Hudson testified on Thursday, July 27 as part of the hearing "At Home DNA Tests: Marketing Scam or Medical Breakthrough?"

Hudson made the case that poor oversight of genetic testing has led to a situation in which "there is no way for a consumer to distinguish between the dubious and the decent" genetic tests and the laboratories that perform them. "At best, consumers may be wasting their money" on some genetic tests offered direct to the consumer via the Internet. At worst, she testified, "they may be foregoing medically appropriate treatment or undertaking medically dubious treatment."

The Center is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts at the Phoebe R. Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University.

Also testifying were representatives of companies selling at home DNA tests, as well as officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and from the Food and Drug Administration. The hearing followed a year-long investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requested by the Committee, into the safety and reliability of genetic tests offered over the Internet. The GAO report was released at the hearing.

For more information, visit www.dnapolicy.org.

Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Genetics & Public Policy Center Web site or visit the Genetics and Public Policy Centeron PewHealth.org.

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