The ability to prevent diseases, to treat patients before they become sick, and to encourage them to change unhealthy lifestyles make predictive medicine highly appealing for many people. However, there are also a number of complex questions about the use of genetic tests and results.
Some researchers have expressed concerns about the validity of genetic testing. That’s because often more than one gene is involved in causing a disease.
Other questions about the validity of genetic testing have also been posed:
Are genes the only factors responsible for illness?
What roles do other factors, such as environment and lifestyle, play in predictive medicine?
Should genetic testing be the only diagnostic tool used?
Are genetic tests completely accurate?
How can the quality and validity of genetic tests be ensured?
Ethics and law
Will genetic testing lead to discrimination and stigma? For example, could it lead to some people being denied jobs and insurance?
How can third parties, such as employers and insurance providers, be prevented from using predictive medicine data in ways that negatively affect individuals?
The pharmaceutical industry has eagerly embraced predictive medicine. That’s because genetic testing and associated medications promise significant financial rewards. Yet there are several health-related questions that need to be answered before we go too far down the predictive medicine path:
What are predictive medicine’s actual health benefits?
What are the risks and side effects associated with taking medicine before a person gets sick?
What are the psychological consequences of being told you are at risk of developing a certain disease?
What about an individual’s right to “not know”?
If an employee were dismissed because she was found to be at risk from a chemical agent used in her workplace, would her termination be considered prevention or discrimination?
Are there any circumstances that would justify denying a job to a person based on his biomarkers?
How and when will the results of genetic testing be shared with employees and employers? And who will ensure the validity of the information?
Does workplace-related genetic testing require developing new confidentiality protocols?
Learn more about predictive medicine
It’s clear that predictive medicine has a major role to play in twenty-first-century health care. Yet some researchers and organizations have raised the spectre of a “medical Inquisition” that would involve testing genes for everything and everyone. They therefore advocate strongly for legislation that will clarify and control such testing and the use of predictive medicine data.
Hinnovic is pleased to offer you a chance to explore the many points of view associated with predictive medicine and the role of biomarkers in society and the workplace. We hope you enjoy this edition of our blog and we look forward to having you join in on the discussion of these critical issues.
Author :Stéphanie Tailliez, Ph.D.