23andMe

It's OK To Make Money on Genetic Research

Companies should be applauded, not criticized, for working to identify the genetic roots of diseases that afflict humanity.

|

In July, 23andMe and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced a $300 million collaboration that will focus on research and development of new medicines and cures, using insights from human genetics as the basis for discovery. GSK will have exclusive access for four years to 23andMe's huge human genetic database, whose 5 million customers make it about "10 times larger than some of the other databases that are out there," GSK's chief scientific officer said in a CNBC interview.

Not everyone was pleased. In Time, Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest think tank, argued that "if your data is going to be used for commercial purposes, you should be compensated."

That's not, however, the bargain that was struck between 23andMe and its customers. The company's terms of service clearly state that people "acquire no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by 23andMe or its collaborating partners"; when you use its product, you acknowledge that you "will not receive compensation for any research or commercial products that include or result from your Genetic Information or Self-Reported Information." Why customers wouldn't want their data included in this research collaboration is not at all clear, but they can opt out if they choose.

Most common illnesses develop as a result of the joint action of gene variants. But because these variants are so numerous and their effects are so small, researchers need genetic and health data from tens of thousands of people to identify disease risk combinations. Bigger databases make this easier.

Since 2006, more than 5 million people have taken advantage of 23andMe's genotype screening tests, which provide them with insights about the health risks they face, whether they are carriers of possibly deleterious gene variants, and their ancestry information. Like me, some 80 percent of these customers have consented to having their data used for research purposes. Just as using 23andMe's product makes me a better informed person now, sharing my information could lead to the development of medicines that will help me and others in the future.

These companies should be applauded, not criticized, for working to identify the genetic roots of diseases that afflict humanity. Here's hoping the scientific insights garnered from the genomes of willing customers will soon result in new treatments for many terrible illnesses.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

11 responses to “It's OK To Make Money on Genetic Research

  1. The pharma companies should be motivated by helping people heal, not by greed. They should freely share the results of that research after spending shareholder funds on it. After all, we all volunteer our free time to help out our employers whenever we can, to improve the human condition.

    1. Is this supposed to be satire?

      How would a company both make helping people its primary motivation and then behave in a fashion which is sure to result in financial loss? If they share their data freely, then they’ve borne all the risk and given up any claim to proprietary rights — and so if the company goes under, then how can they help anyone?

      You can’t help anyone if you don’t secure yourself first.

  2. Way to mischaracterize a subject. AFAICT, this is what the article’s really about:

    In Time, Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest think tank, argued that “if your data is going to be used for commercial purposes, you should be compensated.”

    That’s not, however, the bargain that was struck between 23andMe and its customers. The company’s terms of service clearly state that people “acquire no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by 23andMe or its collaborating partners”; when you use its product, you acknowledge that you “will not receive compensation for any research or commercial products that include or result from your Genetic Information or Self-Reported Information.”

    So what’s that headline about? What’s the concluding para. about?

    See http://users.bestweb.net/~robgood/teach/term paper tips.html

    1. Robert, might I suggest a course in remedial reading skills? You NEED it.

  3. “Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest think tank, argued that “if your data is going to be used for commercial purposes, you should be compensated.””

    Not if the contract to which you agreed says otherwise. Up yours, Mr. Pitts.

  4. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .
    http://www.geosalary.com

  5. I’d be a lot more comfortable if the use of my data were subject to some form of review and control by me. To grant irrevocable rights in perpetuity seems a poor exchange.

  6. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .

    http://www.Mesalary.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.