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Obama 2012

Coming To A Walgreen's Near You: Home DNA Testing Kits

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Canada


DALLAS (CBS 11 / TXA 21) ― The largest U.S. drugstore chain, Walgreen Co., will start selling genetic testing kits at many of its stores later this month, according to Pathway Genomics, which makes the kits.

Pathway said Tuesday that Walgreen will sell saliva swab kits that are used to determine predisposition for chronic diseases, and response to common drugs like Plavix, Tamoxifen and Coumadin.

They can also be used to determine if a person carries a gene for diseases like Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease. The tests will be available at Walgreen stores starting Friday, it said.

Nicole Vazquez, Lewisville resident, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. She said if a home test was on the market years prior to her diagnosis that it may have saved her the anguish of a mastectomy.

"If the results did show that I had a high chance of getting breast cancer, I would have paid more attention to my health; I would have gotten my mammogram early," she said.

The company said the testing kits will cost $20 to $30 each and will include a saliva collection kit and a postage-paid envelope that customers can use to send their saliva sample to the Pathway laboratory.

Customers can then go Pathway's website and order tests. Pathway says the tests -- for drug response, "pre-pregnancy planning" and "health conditions," which includes information explaining your chance of developing up to 70 diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's -- start at $79 and run up to $249 for all three.

"This is by no means telling them (the public) that they're going to get something," said Jim Woodman, a spokesman for Pathway. "It's just something else they should be aware of to make better lifestyle decisions."

But some doctors have serious ethical concerns about the testing kits, especially if the results are wrong. For instance, an Alzheimer's expert said a genetic predisposition to the disease is rare and a simple DNA test is likely to miss other indicators.

"What if somebody says, 'I don't want to live with Alzheimer's disease, I'd rather die'? And so at the age of 45, he kills himself," asked Dr. Myron Weiner, an Alzheimer's expert at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

And while Woodman said the test kits are meant to promote better lifestyle choices, other doctors are worried the kits will cause individuals to not get tested after seeing results that allege they don't have a genetic disposition to a disease.

"One of the concerns we have about this type of testing is that if a person tests negative for just one of the markers for breast cancer, they would assume that they're not going to get the disease and they would not follow up with normal cancer surveillance, such as mammograms," said Dr. Linda Robinson, a genetic counselor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Pathway is based in San Diego. Walgreen, which is headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., runs about 7,500 stores in all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Other companies, including Navigenics Inc. and 23andMe Inc., also offer direct-to-consumer genetic testing, spawned by recent genetic discoveries.

State and federal public health officials, however, have urged consumers to be skeptical, noting that related research is in its earliest stages and doctors have little training in interpreting the results.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the product, but it does have a Class 1 Exemption, which allows it to be sold. However, the FDA said by selling the kit in drug stores, Pathway opens itself up to legal action.

"We carry a wide range of diagnostic and other testing products and strive to lead the market with the newest innovative technologies in health care," Walgreens wrote in a statement to CBS 11. "As a leading provider of pharmacy, health and wellness products and services, we recognize that for some, genetic reports can be an important component in managing their health care."


The Great Canadian to Texas Transfer Timeline:

2/22/2010 - I-129F Packet Mailed

2/24/2010 - Packet Delivered to VSC

2/26/2010 - VSC Cashed Filing Fee

3/04/2010 - NOA1 Received!

8/14/2010 - Touched!

10/04/2010 - NOA2 Received!

10/25/2010 - Packet 3 Received!

02/07/2011 - Medical!

03/15/2011 - Interview in Montreal! - Approved!!!

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