"The technology is running way ahead of the ethical, legal and social implications of doing the testing, and we need to sort all this out before we can start to offer these tests on a mass scale," he said.
Without experts available to help interpret the results, "it will be utter chaos," Marion added.
Dr. Barry H. Thompson, medical director of the American College of Medical Genetics, added: "We at the American College of Medical Genetics are certainly concerned about direct-to-consumer testing. Genetic information obtained from reliable sources is valuable in terms of health care and family planning, and understanding what's ahead in one's life and one's medical care. But at the same time, any genetic test can have a downside if it's not reliable information or if it's not information that's understood."
Genetic tests are already available on the Internet, offering everything from paternity tests to tests that claim to predict whether baldness is in your future -- even tests that claim to tell how well you metabolize caffeine.
But Pathway's "Insight Saliva Collection Kit" would have been the first foray onto many neighborhood store shelves. (A New York law prohibits the sale of the test in that state.)
The test purportedly can predict individual risk for diseases (for example, Alzheimer's or prostate cancer); how likely parents would be to pass certain conditions on to their children; and how well people would respond to various drugs.
While the initial testing kit costs only $20 to $30, having the saliva sample analyzed by the company's lab would cost another $79 to $249.
A major concern is that people would panic and make unwarranted decisions based on test results, especially without professionals available to help interpret the meaning. Pathway has said
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