23andMe’s DNA Library to be used for Drug Development

If you had your DNA tested by 23andMe (as I did), your information will be used to help develop new drugs for various medical conditions. However, not everyone is happy with the idea of using personal information for use in developing products by a for-profit company in a for-profit research project.

23andMe has partnered with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), in a bid to develop new drug treatments. 23andMe, which gives customers insight into their genetic makeup via postal saliva tests, has some five million customers — a potential DNA database considerably larger than those generally available to the scientific community. “By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs,” 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki wrote in a blog post.

In contrast, no data is more personal than your DNA. Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, believes the companies should pay the 23andMe customers whose DNA is used in research. Speaking to NBC News, Pitt asked, “Are they going to offer rebates to people who opt in so their customers aren’t paying for the privilege of 23andMe working with a for-profit company in a for-profit research project?”

You can read a lot more in an article by Rachel England in the Engadget web site at: https://engt.co/2LotesV.

My thanks to newsletter reader Craig Olson for telling me about this article.


Your data is used only if you explicitly grant consent. You can review this in the Settings section of the drop-down menu by your name in the upper-right hand corner of the home page.

I sometimes wonder if people who think it’s only right to share in profits would be equally willing to share in losses.



    Below are excerpts from the Terms of Service for 23andMe. Though you mention you can option that is specifically for the 23andMe research which seems to be indicated in the press release, these other TOS sections indicate that they could do it without your permission.

    “Product Development” means research performed for the purpose of new product development and new product development activities performed by 23andMe on de-identified user data. These activities may include, among other things, improving our Services and/or offering new products or services to you; performing quality control activities; conducting data analysis that may lead to and/or include commercialization with a third party.

    You give permission to 23andMe, its contractors, successors and assignees to perform genotyping services on the DNA extracted from your saliva sample and you specifically request 23andMe to disclose the results of analyses performed on your DNA to you and to others you specifically authorize.

    Waiver of Property Rights: You understand that by providing any sample, having your Genetic Information processed, accessing your Genetic Information, or providing Self-Reported Information, you acquire no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by 23andMe or its collaborating partners. You specifically understand that you will not receive compensation for any research or commercial products that include or result from your Genetic Information or Self-Reported Information.


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