CEO and founder of 23andMe Anne Wojcicki doesn’t feel her wildly successful Silicon Valley gene testing company is oﬀering a “complete product” because the present gene testing kit does not include a test that looks at how you process medications including those for depression. It does include health screenings for some of the genes involved in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and breast cancer.
DNA tests that evaluate genes involved in the breakdown of antidepressants cost $750. What is more, they are only available in three major cities nationwide. Another Silicon Valley genetics testing startup, Color Genomics, started oﬀering the test as part of its $250 kits recently.
Wojcicki expressed hopes her company could include a depression gene testing kit in its product lineup soon at a recent scientific conference. However, many scientists feel the tests don’t oﬀer a clear advantage to people and aren’t worth the investment in some cases. Among other issues, the tests don’t tell providers what medication is best and may give conﬂicting results to the same patient for the same medication.
In the beginning, 23andMe had a test for depression medications. However, it was forced by the FDA to stop selling it in 2013. The FDA requested the company get federal approval because the tests could be misinterpreted as health advice.
This changed in 2017 when the FDA allowed the company to sell some of its health screenings again. Soon after this decision was made, the company began offering a limited selection of some of its original products. The most recent addition is a BRCA gene test. It involves testing some of the genes implicated in the risk of developing breast cancer.