Two years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the genetic testing company 23andMe to stop providing clients with information regarding their health. But recently, the company announced that it will once again provide customers with such information, this time with the approval of the FDA.
23andMe is known for providing customers with knowledge about their ancestors by making use of a sample of their saliva. While the company will once again be providing clients with health information, customers will not receive as much health knowledge as they did in 2013 when the FDA told them to stop.
By offering their clients basic health information, 23andMe hopes that customers will be encouraged to take preventative measures when it comes to passing certain genetic diseases onto their children. The company believes that this reintroduced offering will help make their service more attractive to clients.
Additionally, 23andMe has changed its website to make genetic testing easier to understand by everyday readers, and it has also raised the price of its service.
CEO and co-founder of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki said, “Part of what we tried to do over the last two years is take advantage of being off the market to redesign the entire experience.”
Originally, the company informed customers about information regarding their potential for developing certain genetic diseases based on DNA analysis. The company argued that clients had a right to know about their own genes, and they should not need to have doctors or regulatory agencies involved.
The company received heavy assistance from Google, as when the company was founded, Wojcicki was married to Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. The two have since been divorced.
Unfortunately for 23andMe, the FDA got involved in November of 2013, and the administration required 23andMe to stop providing health information to clients. The FDA said that 23andMe needed to obtain regulatory approval by proving that the results they were giving to clients were indeed accurate.
After the FDA demanded 23andMe to stop providing such information to customers, the company’s rate of growth was essentially cut in half, as the company could only provide clients with information such as eye color, ear wax composition and lactose tolerance.
With their recent approval from the FDA, 23andMe will be allowed to provide clients with information regarding their carrier status, or when a person has recessive traits that could be passed on to their offspring. 23andMe will offer information regarding diseases such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and Tay-Sachs disease.
The company also hopes to gain additional approval from the FDA to provide additional health information to clients. It is unknown how long it would take for 23andMe to receive such approval.
23andMe is also starting to work to develop its own drugs. The company has obtained more than $240 million from investors to start drug development research.
More than one million people currently subscribe to 23andMe.