Is the FDA overreaching in the 23andMe case? Readers debate.

December 1, 2013

Every weekend, we take a look at the most interesting and insightful comments of the preceding week. This week, readers had a lot to say about 23andMe and the sharply worded letter the firm received from the Food and Drug Administration. Many readers felt the FDA's actions went too far. For example, reader respostas17 had this to say:

My genome, my money, my decision. For context: I do believe that the Government has an important place in our lives, and, to place myself in the current Obamacare debate, I am a strong supporter. But this is a case of clear overreach of the government. I am an adult, that knows a lot of statistics, bioinformatics, genetic information, and genomic tools. Why should the FDA limit my access to this? I do not need any intermediate between information on my genome, when I am paying for it with my own money. Everybody knows that this is information that needs to be discuss with medical doctors before being actionable; to limit access to it it's just ridiculous.

And elmgator2 quipped:

Wow and I was just thinking about offing myself since my neanderthal makeup was so high on my 23andme results. Whew! I am glad someone pointed out the possibility all these results may be just false positives. Now my wife wont have to divorce me for being a caveman!

Some readers voiced support for the FDA's position. Dora Smith, for example, wrote:

I'm afraid that 23andMe has got it coming. 23andMe uses 1 to 8 genetic mutations to predict risk for very genetically complex health problems that are only partially genetic, from cancer to type II diabetes and heart disease. Their breast cancer report is outright deceptive; despite fine print that the major BRAC genes aren't included. The reports look glitzy and attract the shallow and the partially educated, and they misinform. My brother and I tested at 23andMe, and I will forever be glad we did, but we are far from typical consumers, and I have been deeply disturbed for a long time about 23andMe's glitziness, the deceptiveness of their risk reports, and their extraordinarily poor and unprofessional customer service.

Readers also had a lot to say about Tuesday's story about an online retailer who allegedly retaliated against a customer by invoking a non-disparagement clause in its terms of service and then sent the alleged charge to a debt collection agency. Reader writes:

I'm a retired (*) lawyer (small businessman), I've also represented consumers and been one, and thus consider myself a values and economic conservative, and think it is long past time that Congress and the states provide really available, reasonably priced, and effective legal protection against "non-disparagement" and other unconscionable provisions in contracts, abuses of credit reporting and collection procedures, against which the existing remedies are significantly puny. I had a client conned into a "non-disparagement" clause in a pyramid scam that the state eventually shut down who was inhibited from reporting what we had learned about their criminal activity. Don't get me started on compulsory arbitration clauses that, instead of providing an inexpensive and efficient forum and remedy, cost more than the whole transaction and more than it would cost to go to court. The flip side of the value of liberty of contract is that the government must step in to prevent and provide remedies for false advertising, abuses of economic power, and both technical and constructive fraud and overreaching.

We hope Switch readers (at least the American ones) had a great Thanksgiving.

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