Genetics & Public Policy Center
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From a Good Housekeeping magazine article to a Consumer Reports on Health special report, direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC) has figured prominently in the media coverage of human genetic technology this spring. Many of the articles have highlighted the difficulties faced by consumers in trying to assess the quality and legitimacy of the tests and the claims made by the various companies. (See “Who Regulates Genetic Tests Issue Brief” for more information). Media coverage also has focused on the status of federal regulatory oversight and how the current regulatory environment may inadequately protect consumers and the public’s health. The Genetics and Public Policy Center has been regularly featured in these articles, and Center staff members have been quoted numerous times for their expertise in the field.

Following an extensive layout in the Washington Post that included a feature article and three sidebar articles on direct-to-consumer genetic testing, the Center’s law and policy director Gail Javitt was asked to serve as an expert consultant for a one-hour online chat on the newspaper’s website. Javitt, assisted by colleagues Juli Murphy and Susannah Baruch, addressed a wide range of audience questions and concerns, including insurance company access to DTC test results, the role of the federal government in regulating DTC testing, and validity issues in DTC laboratories. Participants from Boston to Portland posed questions to the panel. “What this shows,” Javitt says, “is that there’s real public interest in, as well as concern about, DTC testing, and very little information is out there to help consumers figure it out.”

The Center continues to monitor the DTC genetic testing marketplace and will feature our in-depth analysis in an upcoming newsletter.

The Center has been featured in the following publications about DTC testing:

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