Saturday, October 25, 2014

Genetic test results off-limits: watchdog

OTTAWA—Canada’s privacy watchdog is urging insurance companies and others to stop asking for access to the results of existing genetic tests at this time.
Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said it is becoming more of a challenge to protect people’s genetic privacy with recent advances in science and technology.

“We are calling on the industry to refrain from asking for existing test results to assess insurance risk until the industry can clearly show that these tests are necessary and effective in assessing risk,” Therrien said in a statement yesterday.
“This would allow people to undergo genetic testing for various purposes without fear that the results may have a negative impact if they apply for insurance,” he noted.
There are now hundreds of genetic tests available to help spot genes known to increase a person’s risk of developing certain medical conditions.
But some people may decline tests for fear a positive result may mean they could face discrimination from insurance companies or their employers.
“It is not reasonable and not necessary for the insurance industry to ask for genetic information when they’re making their decisions,” said Bev Heim-Myers of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness.
“They already have a lot of information that they can have access to.”

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