Genetic Testing Company to Run Direct-to-Consumer Ads for Cancer Tests
Myriad Genetics Inc., manufacturer of tests for genetic predisposition for some cancers, will begin marketing its ovarian and breast cancer tests directly to consumers this fall, the AP/Washington Times reports. The Salt Lake City, Utah-based company will test market print, television and radio spots in Atlanta and Denver this fall. Until now, Myriad's tests -- which screen a person's risk for genetic forms of breast, ovarian, colon, uterine and skin cancers -- have been marketed solely to physicians. Dr. Gregory Critchfield, president of Myriad, said, "We think the public needs to know, too. We think the information needs to come in both directions." He added that the campaign is meant to "make these tests for [the] mainstream."
Some physicians and health advocates are concerned that marketing the tests directly to patients could create unnecessary anxiety, increase medical costs and "even create a false sense of security, with a negative result being misinterpreted as a clean bill of health for all kinds of cancer," the AP/Times reports. Opponents of the advertising campaign call it a "simple push for profits." Doctors say that the tests, which cost between $745 to $2,760, are necessary only for a "relatively small real market" because an estimated 5% to 10% of cancers are genetically based. Dr. Richard Roberts, chair of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said, "I'm worried about marketing overstating the benefits of these tests and that, despite everyone's best intentions, they won't be used properly." Critchfield said that Myriad's marketing team is trained to explain to doctors that "only a small group of patients should take the tests." He added that all patients receive counseling before and after screening (Agovino, AP/Washington Times, 6/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.