Did you ever wonder what the at-home genetic testing companies are doing with your DNA? It turns out they might be selling it to pharmaceutical companies. The Doctors share how one popular at-home genetic testing company recently signed a 300 million dollar deal with a pharmaceutical powerhouse to develop brand new drugs using DNA test results from its customers.
Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra notes that most of these DNA tests do have a box you can check to opt-in or out of research. However, if your information is already released, and then you want to opt-out, there's not much control over that. Secondly, Dr. Batra explains how you could basically be paying twice if theoretically, you buy a DNA genetic test kit and then the pharma company that purchased your information develops expensive drugs that you end up needing! On the other hand, if you are informed and comfortable with sharing your information, it can be helpful to new disease research.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains these companies are using the DNA to develop new cures by looking at patterns using the massive troves of DNA available to them. Dr. Batra elaborates that the particular company they mentioned earlier is studying a specific gene that is associated with Parkinson's disease. They are looking at people with variations of that gene to try and create a medication that targets it. “It’s a really challenging question because we don’t really understand or have full consent over how our information is used, but then there may be an ultimate better good for society if there is an effective medication,” says Dr. Batra.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says he has been hesitant to try an at-home DNA genetic kit because of his concern that his information will get out there. He thinks there could even come a time where genetic information is sold to insurers, creating a larger ethical dilemma.
Dr. Travis acknowledges it's good that customers are able to opt-out of their DNA being used, but he doesn't like that's it not initially just an opt-in. He's sick of our information out there being sold! Dr. Batra adds with all the social media apps we are often unintentionally giving away private information.
Dr. Travis advises viewers to be conscious whenever their DNA is tested for anything. He says to ask questions regarding who else may have access to the DNA and if there is a possibility of it being sold.