Who’s On Third? Regulation of Third-Party Genetic Interpretation Services

Genetics in Medicine

Gail H. Javitt, Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, co-authored an article in Genetics in Medicine, titled “Who’s On Third? Regulation of Third-Party Genetic Interpretation Services.” 

Following is an excerpt:

In recent years, third-party genetic interpretation services have emerged to help individuals understand their raw genetic data obtained from researchers, clinicians, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies. The objectives of these services vary but include matching users to genetic relatives, selling customized diet and fitness plans, and providing health risk assessments. As these services proliferate, concerns are being raised about their accuracy, safety, and privacy practices. Thus far, US regulatory agencies have not taken an official position with respect to third-party genetic interpretation services, which has caused uncertainty regarding whether and how they might be regulated. To clarify this area, we analyzed their potential oversight by four US agencies that generally have been active in the regulation of genetic testing services and information: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, and the Federal Trade Commission. We conclude that the scope of federal jurisdiction over third-party genetic interpretation services—while limited—could be appropriate at this time, subject to agency clarification and appropriate exercise of oversight.