Class Action Lawsuit Against 23andMe Alleges False and Misleading Advertising and Misappropriation of Personal Genetic Data
A number of class action lawsuits has been filed against the genetic testing company 23andMe for false and misleading advertising and for misappropriating personal genetic information of their customers. On November 22, 2013 the FDA issued a warning letter to 23andMe alleging that the company’s marketing materials violated federal laws by making medical claims that have never been federally approved and asked the company to stop selling its “saliva kits.” The FDA has been warning the company since 2010 that its test is considered a medical product and is subject to federal review. 23andMe ignored these warnings and continued an aggressive advertising campaign touting the predictive and preventative nature of the test. The company also slashed the price of the test from $299 to $99.
23andMe was founded in 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and has been financially backed by Google since its inception. 23andMe began selling their genetic tests in 2007. Recently, the company allegedly started to advertise the predictive and preventative benefits of their test. Purchasers of the test provide a saliva sample and in return receive a long list of personal, genetic information based on their DNA – such as susceptibility to certain diseases, health reports, and responses to various medications. However, the FDA warning letter and the class action lawsuits allege that 23andMe supplies this information without providing supporting scientific or clinical validation of the accuracy and reliability of their “saliva kits.” Consequently, 23andMe’s improper representations may have deceived and bilked consumers thousands of dollars.
Additionally, the 23andMe, Inc. class action lawsuit filed by Audet & Partners, LLP is asking for damages associated with 23andMe’s alleged improper and illegal marketing and selling of their customers’ genetic information to the scientific community. According to 23andMe board member Patrick Chung “[t]he long game here is not to make money selling kits…. Once you have the [genetic] data, [23andMe] becomes the Google of personalized health care.” The purported close relationship of Google to 23andMe and the “long game” described by Mr. Chung suggests that the collection and monetization of personal information by companies like Google is now moving beyond computers and smartphones to the physical bodies of the users themselves, using the equivalent of “body cookies” to track individuals. 23andMe is believed to have used their customer’s personal genetic data to directly market and sell them products and services.
If you have purchased a 23andMe genetic test, you may be entitled to compensation. You can request a free case evaluation by calling Audet and Partners, LLP at (800) 965-1461, or by completing and submitting our confidential inquiry form on the right side of this page.
To view a copy of the class action Complaint, please click here.
To view a copy of the FDA Warning Letter to 23andMe, Inc. dated November 22, 2013, please click here.