23andMe, is now offering health and ancestry information based on analysis of DNA to Canadians. Founded in 2006, the company provides home-based saliva-testing kits, which customers send in for genetic analysis.
23andMe will charge Canadian clients CDN$199 plus shipping for its personal genome service through 23andMe.ca, which the company says will help them to better understand their health and ancestry and “to possibly discover new relatives.”
Canadians will have access to 108 health-related reports that includes information on genetic risk factors for various health conditions, potential drug responses, genetic traits and inherited conditions.
It sounds to me as if 23andMe is offering not only genealogy-related testing but also is offering the medical testing that was stopped in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration. Obviously, there is no prohibition (so far) about offering the same service in other countries. The Canadians will benefit from having access to medical testing that is prohibited for Americans unless they get a doctor to order similar, but very expensive, tests for a patient.
The FDA said the company had not shown the tests are safe or effective. It warned that erroneous results could cause customers to seek unnecessary or ineffective medical care. That move strikes me as silly. It prohibits Americans from obtaining low-cost medical analysis of their own bodies. Luckily for me, I obtained my 23andMe medical results a few weeks before the FDA sent the letter. Others were not so lucky.
23andMe CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki stated that the company also has plans to begin marketing its personal genetics product within other countries. “We were selling our health reports through the entire world and we made a choice to turn off everything and re-evaluate,” she said of the company’s direction following the FDA order. “It is definitely part of our plan to make this available worldwide. And Canada is the first country that we are going to.”