Ever wonder where your tonsils go after you get them removed? Most people probably don’t care.
But you know who does? Massive drug companies, the government, and academic centers.
In fact, they’re doing everything they can to get their hands on your DNA in a new “biological samples” market that could generate as much as $23B in revenue by 2018.
This didn’t used to be a thing, but now it is…
Largely thanks to the 2010 bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, that told the story of how a poor black tobacco farmer’s cancerous cells fueled major medical discoveries but were taken and commercialized without her consent.
Hoping to stop this type of exploitation (no matter how noble the cause), 16 federal entities are proposing a new requirement that forces researchers to get patients’ permission to study leftover biological material.
It’s a controversial proposition as it can easily slow down research with too many restrictions and costs. But think about it: If you knew Pfizer stood to make billions from your DNA, would you be cool with that or want a piece of the action?
Of course you’d take the money
That’s why there’s big business for companies specializing in DNA collection.
One of these, DNAsimple, pays as much as $50 for a saliva sample, while others simply offer to share their complete analysis and any future findings if you agree to play ball.
Then there’s 23andMe, who not only charges more than $99 to those interested in ancestral origins and genetic predispositions, but they also struck a $60m deal with Genentech early last year to provide samples for the study of Parkinson’s disease.
Talk about double dipping… Jeez.
Point is, your DNA is a hot commodity. And as Sharon Terry, CEO of the Genetic Alliance, puts it, “There’s an economy around this data. Why shouldn’t the consumer be a part of it?”