Would you like to know if you have increased genetic risk for Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s? How about if you and your spouse each carry a gene variant (GJB2) that increases the likelihood your offspring will be deaf or have hearing loss? Well until last week you couldn’t – not because the technology didn’t exist, but because the Obama administration forbade it by threatening the companies who could do it.
In 2013 Barack Obama’s FDA ordered genetic testing company 23andme to cease providing reports to its customers on the genetic information they learned from them. Customers ordered a test kit and gave a saliva sample which 23andme then mapped. The results informed people with many facts, including from where their ancestors likely came from, to whether they have BRCA gene mutations consistent with increased breast and ovarian cancer. The FDA declared that the saliva gathering kit providing these people their own information was a medical device.
The kit is chiefly a tube into which the customer spits. Then it is sealed and sent away for testing. How is that a medical device? Is a cane? What about a bedpan? Only a government agency grasping for power could conclude such a thing. More than that, it completely hobbled 23andme and any competitors. The approval process for medical devices is so costly in dollars and time as to make it impossible for companies to offer this service. The FDA made it impossible for people to find out their genetic makeup – how does that increase the health of Americans?
Thankfully the FDA seems to be included in the Trump administration’s efforts to free us from strangling regulations. The agency recently announced that 23andme could provide ten more reports than were previously permitted, including on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and celiac diseases. It’s not the full complement of results they have on hand, but it’s a vast improvement, and the FDA indicated future approvals are forthcoming.
Did you see any signs at the March Against Trump March for Science celebrating this revelation? It seemed more like a march for big government. Keynote speaker Bill Nye went on CNN and denounced the network for having a physicist on air who was skeptical of leftist global warming models. As Fox’s Greg Gutfeld commented, “Nye mocks skepticism, which is the spine behind the scientific method. An actual scientist embraces debate…”
Mapping the human genome was one of the biggest events in the history of biology, but what good is it if we’re forbidden from reading our own? Kudos to the Trump administration for being pro-science!