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Walgreens Postpones Plans to Sell Do-It-Yourself Genetic Test
Date:5/13/2010

FDA challenged legality of product; experts worry consumers aren't ready for such information

THURSDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Drugstore giant Walgreens says it will postpone selling a controversial at-home genetic test that could purportedly gauge a person's risk for a variety of diseases and other health threats, such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart attack, certain cancers and whether a couple might produce a child with genetic disorders.

Walgreens, which planned to sell the test kits starting Friday at more than 6,000 of its 7,500 stores nationwide, making it the first U.S. retailer to offer such tests, said it made the decision after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration questioned whether the tests could be sold legally without the agency's approval.

"In light of the FDA contacting Pathway Genomics [the maker of the test] about its genetic test kit and anticipated ongoing discussions between the two parties, we've elected not to move forward with offering the Pathway product to our customers until we have further clarity on this matter," said Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn, the Washington Post reported.

Pathway said in a statement late Wednesday, "We respect and understand Walgreens's decision and we are communicating with the FDA about the Pathway Genomics Insight collection kit. Pathway works very diligently to ensure that our business is compliant with all applicable regulations and guidelines," the newspaper reported.

When Walgreens said Tuesday that it planned to sell the test kits, some genetic experts worried that consumers simply aren't ready for this new step forward in the age of "personalized medicine."

"This is kind of the leading edge of what will be personalized medicine, [but] we're not at a stage yet where we can take the information [these tests] give us and understand what the significance is," said Dr. Robert Marion, chief of genetics and development medic
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