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Genetic Testing, Fact or Fiction: You Be the Judge

Which of these two events is fact and which is fiction?

  • Organizations representing employers and health plans call for a moratorium on implementation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, asserting that the new rules could have a “significant and adverse impact…on wellness and prevention efforts” in the workplace.

  • One of the largest companies in America begins matchmaking its employees based on their genetic compatability, hoping to save on the health insurance bills associated with imperfectly bred children.

Answer: No. 1 is a Dec. 2 press release from the Disease Management Association of America. No. 2 is a description of the Dec. 8 episode of the ABC-TV comedy, “Better Off Ted.”

Coincidence? You be the judge.

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DaveClaireMargalit Gur-ArieNateMichael Millenson Recent comment authors
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Dave
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Dave

CVS to Offer Genetic Tests to Help Sales, Lofberg Says Share Business By Carol Wolf Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) — CVS Caremark Corp.’s Per Lofberg, the newly named president of the pharmacy-benefits management unit, said the company will offer genetic testing to help sales and profit by matching customers to the best drugs for them. “This is the next frontier of how pharmacy will be practiced and how pharmaceuticals will be brought to market,” Lofberg said in a telephone interview. CVS, the largest U.S. provider of prescription drugs, named Lofberg, 62, president of its pharmacy-benefits management, or PBM, business today after… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

CVS to Offer Genetic Tests to Help Sales, By Carol Wolf Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) — CVS Caremark Corp.’s Per Lofberg, the newly named president of the pharmacy-benefits management unit, said the company will offer genetic testing to help sales and profit by matching customers to the best drugs for them. “This is the next frontier of how pharmacy will be practiced and how pharmaceuticals will be brought to market,” Lofberg said in a telephone interview. CVS, the largest U.S. provider of prescription drugs, named Lofberg, 62, president of its pharmacy-benefits management, or PBM, business today after it lost $4.8 billion… Read more »

Nate
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Nate

Why do we need genetic info? First you don’t seem to be aware of how GINA defines genetic info, it isn’t limited to DNA and such testing. It is a terribly broad definition that catches much more. Next if someone has a family history of high blood pressure obviously we want that person getting tested regularly. How do we educate someone about an illness and helpprevent it if we aren’t allowed to see if it is there? PCPs don’t manage health they treat conditions. Now it would be nice if there was a rainbow every morning when I woke up… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

Mandatory wellness program, Nate?
What happened to freedom and all THAT hogwash, or is it just freedom to be uninsured that should be protected by the constitution?
Never mind….
Why is it exactly that you need genetic information as a prerequisite for participation in wellness programs? Wouldn’t a note from the primary care physician work just as well? Or are we thinking that the employers/insurers bureaucrats can identify risk better than a physician? I guess it depends on the definition of the word “risk”…..

Nate
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Nate

Claire hit the nail on the head, it was the way the idiots wrote the bill that create the problem. It already has had a huge impact on wellness, plans have already changed from GINA. Add to that what the EEOC has done and new ADA crap comming out and for all their talk about pushing wellness they set it back 20 years. And the ignornat, you earned this one, liberal hogwash about trusting evil boogyman corporations is BS from someone that hasn’t taken the time to learn what they are talking about. It is just as illegal to give… Read more »

Claire
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Claire

The big issue seems to be that GINA takes away the incentives that can be offered to ask individuals to participate in wellness groups and engage in proactive preventative care.
GINA and the DMAA both dont want people to be discriminated against by genetics/genetic testing, etc (good thing), the issue is how to incentivize and engage people to work towards wellness, if you take away some of the data sources (asking about family history of cardiometabolic conerns, looking at your labs, etc.).

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

Trust??? So all the fringe lunatics who don’t trust their own government for the fear of death panels, are now going to trust the corporations of the US Chamber of Commerce to selflessly look after their wellness?

Michael Millenson
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Michael Millenson

Just to be clear on GINA’s actual impact on wellness and preventative care: I am not judging the technical merits of the DMAA position in a serious, lawyerly, policy wonk way. It may or may not have merit.
I am judging them in a gut-reaction “Do you trust these guys to be looking after the rights of employees/patients?” In the court of public opinion, asking for a last-minute stay of the rules will require an awfully good explanation. Maybe they have one. Maybe.

Nate
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Nate

Michael are you claiming GINA doesn’t have an adverse impact on wellness and preventive care?

Michael Millenson
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Michael Millenson

I didn’t see the movie. The catch, of course, is that all of us are genetically flawed in one way or another — depending upon who is doing the judging.

Don
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thanks for the post.
They both sound a bit like that movie from a number of years back: Gattica.
Did any of you see that? Couples could pick the exact genetic characteristics of their child. Ultimately it leaves people who have flaws in their genetic code (disease) to be elimiated.