Personalized Genomics: DTC Companies are in Huge Trouble

Today’s US Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing into the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry was a vicious affair. Representatives from testing companies 23andMe, Navigenics and Pathway faced a barrage of questions about the accuracy and utility of their tests, made all the worse by the fact that many of the Committee’s members seemed unable to distinguish between the more responsible companies in the field and the scammers and bottom-feeders.

Therefore, while advertising beef, the genetics community only seems to be delivering tofu. The complexity of genetic diseases has been far greater than anticipated, and the public’s interest in learning about genetic predispositions is unexpectedly low. So, will genetics ever impact primary care? It already has and will continue to do so, but it is likely to continue in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary manner. Primary health care providers who keep current by reading the medical literature and attending professional meetings will not be left in the dust. And, in time, the benefits of genetic technology will benefit our patients.