February 23, 2011
AMA Opposes Personal Genetic Testing Freedom

In a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration the American Medical Association argues that you should have to pay for a doctor's visit to get your genes tested. We need to speak out loudly and repeatedly against the efforts of regulators and economically interested parties to restrict our choices and access to tests. Some newly elected Congress critters looking to make a mark could do something useful by introducing legislation to curb the FDA's power to block direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing services.

We urge the Panel to offer clear findings and recommendations that genetic testing, except under the most limited circumstances, should be carried out under the personal supervision of a qualified health care professional, and provide individuals interested in obtaining genetic testing access to qualified health care professionals for further information. While DTC genetic tests may offer some benefits to consumers, such as promoting awareness of the genetic bases of disease and increasing attention to healthy behaviors that prevent the onset of disease, the AMA is concerned about the potential of DTC genetic tests to cause harm to consumers and over time increase health care costs. Without the guidance of a physician, genetic counselor, or other genetics specialist, test results could be misinterpreted, risks miscalculated, and incorrect health and lifestyle changes pursued. At the very least, consumers will waste money purchasing tests with little value.

A trade association of medical doctors unsurprisingly favors your use of their services to get information that you should be able to pay for directly from suppliers.

If the danger of having information misinterpreted is a valid reason to restrict information then the FDA and AMA should have the power to restrict which diet books get published or who says what about their diets on talk shows. This amounts to a restriction on your freedom to read. The idea of "you can't handle the truth" is nonsense.

I am reminded that 23andme is now charging only $199 for genetic tests of almost 1 million locations in your genome. You might want to get tested before the FDA and AMA try to take way your right to do so.

See my previous posts Genetic Tests Not Causing Anxiety, FDA Wants To Regulate Genetic Testing, and Direct Genetic Testing Companies Face Regulation.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 February 23 08:57 PM  Policy Medical

WJ said at February 24, 2011 8:25 AM:

And yet we wonder why medical costs run so high. Reminds me of the time I had to visit an ER on a holiday weekend just to get some quality pain killers. Ten generic Vicodin pills: $5. Ten generic vicodin pills plus ER *nurse* (never actually saw a doctor) to tell me something I already knew: $340 (including $100 out of my own pocket). And that doesn't count the two hours wasted in the waiting room.

kurt9 said at February 24, 2011 9:33 AM:

The AMA is no different than a Medieval guild. They are rent-seekers.

Michael Caton said at February 24, 2011 11:48 AM:

Totally agreed. Is there a petition or other action? I'm a medical student so hopefully my disgust with this position will count for something. I may send an open letter with a list of physician and student signatories.

theBuckWheat said at February 25, 2011 11:01 AM:

Maybe this outrage will inspire more people to appreciate what "unalienable rights" means, and then step up their willingness to defend them from assault by government and those who seek to capture government to further their private agendas and profit motives.

Brett said at March 1, 2011 1:02 PM:

We conceded the principle a century ago when we placed the doctors between the pharmacist and the consumer.

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