Recent Articles

RSS IP Licensing Law Blog

Tag: DNA Direct

California Takes First Step Towards Regulating Genetic Testing Companies

Written by on Monday, June 16th, 2008

California’s Department of Health has taken a first step towards regulating genetic testing companies by sending out cease and desist letters demanding that they halt sales in state until they comply with quality and reliabilty standards, reported SF Gate

According to SF Gate, thirteen companies received the letters, including the two most visible genetic testing companies, Navigenics INc. and 23andMe Inc.

SF Gate reported:

All the companies have two weeks to demonstrate to regulators that their laboratories are certified by the state and federal governments, said department [of health] spokeswoman Lea Brooks. They must also show that the tests currently being sold to California residents have been ordered by a doctor as required by state law. . . . Companies face fines of up to $3,000 a day if they don’t comply.

The California action follows a similar action taken by the New York Department of Health earlier this year, as we discussed in our May 14th blog posting.

Having just spoken last week at the Beyond Genome Conference in San Francisco, where we were discussing the ins and outs of the recent advances in genetic testing , I was a bit surprised to read that California–given our robust biotech industry–was following in New York’s footsteps on this issue.  Moreover, I was surprised to discover that there is a state law in California requiring that genetic tests be ordered by a physician.

While perhaps it makes some sense to require the laboratories of these companies to be certified by the state and federal governments (although I confess that I do not know what is involved in the certification process), does it really make sense to require that all genetic testing be initiated by a doctor’s order?  Is this really good public policy? 

As I indicated in my prior posting on this issue, I personally would be rather reluctant to pursue genetic testing even if I was interested in the results simply because I would not want the results to get into the hands of the insurance companies.  Requiring that no testing can be pursued without a doctor’s order makes it virtually impossible to run the tests without the insurance companies obtaining copies of the results.  According to Ryan Phelan, the CEO and Founder of DNA Direct, who also spoke at the Beyond Genome Conference last week, genetic test results are not even considered uniformly reliable across the board; some tests are viewed as being more reliable than others.  Would this be understood, however, by the insurance companies evaluating the results?  I personally would not be willing to take that risk.  Then again, as I have shared with blog readers previously, I have had first-hand experience with the challenges that can be encountered with obtaining health insurance even when young and in relatively good health, as my COBRA insurance was terminated six months after my previous employer closed its doors and I was forced to go out and look for insurance on the open market before I had "exhausted" my COBRA under state law.  Based on my experience, it is not inconceivable to think that an insurer would label you "uninsurable" solely on the basis of your genetic testing results. 

In evaluating the debate over genetic testing, I cannot help but  wonder what is at the crux of the fears over confidential genetic testing.   Is the medical community concerned that a public that already has access to HIV and pregnancy testing over-the-counter somehow cannot handle genetic testing results?  Is there a concern about protecting the public from reliability issues arising from some of the genetic tests?  Is there a worry about what the public will do with the information, or what the public will expect physicians to do with the information? Or is something else entirely at the heart of these concerns?

I’m interested to hear any commentary on the genetic testing debate: should there be laws in place to require physicians to be involved with genetic testing, or to order the tests?  Would you be deterred from pursuing testing because of a physician’s involvement?  Do the laws need to be changed so that states cannot in essence "shut down" genetic testing start-ups that are emerging in the marketplace? 

The California Biotech Law Blog will continue to follow this issue as it unfolds, and we will keep you posted on any feedback we receive on the issue.

Category: Biotech Industry News  |  Comments Off on California Takes First Step Towards Regulating Genetic Testing Companies

Site search



RSS Software Law Blog

RSS Firm Events

© 2008-2018 The Prinz Law Office. All rights reserved.

The Prinz Law Office | Silicon Valley | Los Angeles | Orange County | San Diego | Atlanta | Tel: 1.800.884.2124

Silicon Valley Business Office: 2225 East Bayshore Rd., Suite 200, Palo Alto, CA 94304: Silicon Valley Mailing Address: 117 Bernal Rd., Suite 70-110, San Jose, CA 95119 Silicon Valley Office: (408) 884-2854 | Los Angeles Office: (310) 907-9218 | Orange County Office: (949)236-6777 | San Diego Office: (619)354-2727 | Atlanta Office: (404)479-2470

Licensed in California and Georgia.

Protected by Security by CleanTalk and CleanTalk Anti-Spam