23andMe returns to direct-to-consumer genetic testing marketing

Nearly two years after the FDA shut the door on 23andMe‘s direct marketing of genetic testing, it is now back in the market with FDA clearance. The new Personal Genome Service (PGS) now meets FDA standards–and is now $199 where it was previously $99. It is as before a saliva-based test that in about two months, provides that person with an online report. There are multiple types, for instance the carrier status test on 36 inherited conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. The company is also bolstered by closing a $115 million round this month and in January a partnership with Pfizer to sell the company its Research Portal aggregated, anonymized data. Earlier this year, FDA cleared in Class II their Bloom Syndrome test [TTA 20 Feb] and late last year resumed DTC test marketing in the UK. Mobihealthnews also includes a helpful timeline of 23andMe’s troubles and recovery.

23andMe finally gets a nod from FDA

Breaking news: Foot in door? Crack in the wall? This week’s Big News among the genomics enthusiasts among the healthdigerati is that 23andMe finally got one test through FDA, for Bloom Syndrome where the gene is carried by both parents, and now can freely sell the kits. Much is being made of wording in the press release from a major FDA executive as opening the door:

“The FDA believes that in many circumstances it is not necessary for consumers to go through a licensed practitioner to have direct access to their personal genetic information. Today’s authorization and accompanying classification, along with FDA’s intent to exempt these devices from FDA premarket review, supports innovation and will ultimately benefit consumers,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “These tests have the potential to provide people with information about possible mutations in their genes that could be passed on to their children.”

But far more of a startling admission by FDA is that 1) these genetic screening kits are now classified as Class II and 2) they intend to exempt them from the arduous pre-market review that is in Class III:

Along with this authorization, the FDA is also classifying carrier screening tests as class II. In addition, the FDA intends to exempt these devices from FDA premarket review. The agency plans to issue a notice that announces the intent to exempt these tests and that provides a 30-day period for public comment. This action creates the least burdensome regulatory path for autosomal recessive carrier screening tests with similar uses to enter the market.

There will be much more; this article by Chris Seper in MedCityNews is an excellent recap. Our articles previously in TTA.

Would one of our UK readers expand our knowledge on these kits’ regulatory status in the UK and EU? According to the MedCityNews article, the UK permits 23andMe’s genetic testing, but is vague on the details (CE approval?)