23andme is a Personal Genomic Service directly accessible to patients without a doctor’s order. It is the basis of the new Sklar Center Genomics Program which determines your disease risks based on your very own genetic makeup. 23andme provides information about cardiovascular risks, cancer risks and many other health conditions.
Apparently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now having second thoughts about empowering patients to know their own health risks. A recent article posted in Forbes online stated that the FDA has suspended 23andme Personal Genomic Service. When you know your own health risks, you can take steps to avoid disease in the future. At the Sklar Center we advocate for prevention though knowledge and action. 70% of your health is based on your lifestyle. Knowing your risks through genetic testing can empower you to change your sleep, your diet, your exercise, and your response to stress so that you can stay healthy. Of course, that would mean using less medications, not something the FDA and drug companies want.
The FDA is concerned that patients will take their medical care into their own hands based on 23andme genetic testing results. Yet the 23andme website clearly states that patients should take this information to their own doctors for interpretation and implementation. The FDA is suspending 23andme testing because they say that patients will adjust their own medications and could suffer risky consequences. I got my genetics tested through 23andme and guess what? I am a slow metabolizer of blood thinners. That means if I were to need warfarin (a blood thinner) in the future, my starting dose would need to be lower than usual. Now, I’m not interested in adjusting my own dose, but I certainly would give that information to my doctor so that I could avoid a life-threatening hemorrhage, which can occur with warfarin use. As a matter of fact, in January 2010 the FDA updated warfarin’s label to say this type of genome information can assist physicians in selecting a starting dose of the drug.
The FDA has no problem with approving drugs and devices to treat crisis health conditions. At the same time the FDA stopped 23andme, they approved a new cardiac medication and a new cardiac stent to be used to open clogged blood vessels in the heart. They really don’t want you to know how to prevent disease –they want you sick so that you need to buy what they are selling.
Dr. Sklar has no financial connections with 23andme.