Saturday, June 21, 2008

Follow Up: How 23andme is getting some free spin doctorism...who's buying?

[Click on Post Title for Link to External Article]

I also want you to read this one from the same blog:

And my original post here:

Here is my problem:

Most things are actually not your decision. This viewpoint that because it is your body you can do anything with it sounds like something you hear from irascible teenagers and pot smokers.

This is not about you at all!

This is also not about whether or not WebMD is organizing information the way you would appreciate it and how 23andme is better organized at rehashing the same information.

This is about vulnerability.

Of course they are not "telling" you that you should get yourself tested. But heck, they are implying it.

And if the Doctors know less than you about genetics (from the second blog I believe) - however believable that statement might be - it doesn't solve the basic problem.

The practice of medicine is mired by its own puff-able concept "Gold Standards". And even then, genetics hasn't gotten to the stage where insurance will pay enough and Doctors will pay attention. It will get there soon, not just yet.

But, we need to get back to the context.

Here is the problem with 23andme and its Redwood City look-alike:

1. We understand very little about how genetics actually work, even less about why SNPs occur, how they are triggered to start up or shut themselves and so on. Yeah, we know something...we have no clue about most other things.

2. In case this is news to you, people are gullible. The guy who's dad just died from Colon Cancer, the lady who's mom died of breast cancer. 23andme, believe it or not is a lovely, expensive trap for such people.

3. Let's go back to your Doctor thing. Let us say that family X did get their genes profiled. You admit yourself that based on your extensive survey and unfathomable depths of prescience, most Doctors have no clue what A,T,C,G and U do other than serving as alphabets. Given this situation, knowing that no insurance company wants to pay for the information, what is family X to do with the junky printouts 23andme sells them.

4. This may also be news to you. There is this group of people called hypochondriacs...

Oh my God! The things people say and imply. California sent those C&Ds at the appropriate time. Before we understand genetics, trying to randomly decode information at a perky price of $1000 or higher is as good as offering people to clone their dogs for them! (Apparently there is a huge market for them, and yeah, yeah, they are your dogs. God, someone call the SPCA - it's after all the dog's own genes...)

(Note: If 23andme were to do it for free at this point, I would have no problems! That would be a true contribution to science. Otherwise its like trying to get 1000 monkeys to come up with Shakespeare's plays, and asking the monkeys to pay for it as well)

And come on! Who are you fooling? If you walk down the street and described 23andme to random individuals on the street, how many would actually realize, admit or agree to your view that this is NOT about healthcare and that the Department of Public Health should just wait and watch.

Yes, 23andme and Navigenics are just that - snake oil merchants with deep pockets!

And if you are mad, maybe 23andme can figure out and help you remove the "mad" gene. I am sure they have good, well organized notes on why people get mad....

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