This week our big government stuck its imposing finger in the eye of the self-empowered populous. The FDA shuttered personal genomics company 23andMe until it could come up with evidence that their reports mean anything.
The response of the American consumer has been muted. In fact, I’m not sure the average 23andMe user is concerned with what the fuss is all about. Experiences with my closest friends who have undergone analysis involve a measured balance of shock and amusement that seems to approximate the response of someone reading a horoscope. Actionable stories exist.
23andMe embodies a generation preoccupied with itself. Our right to know has superseded our ability to understand. Empowerment has evolved as data, information, knowledge and wisdom are almost seen as one in the same. Whether 23andMe’s reporting is actionable is to miss the point. When you’ve got your data, what more do you need, really? Epigenetics…what epigenetics?
As one predisposed to a free market thinking in the area of health disruption, I’m less inclined to come down on the side of a meddling government. But here the FDA is advocating for a public (as well as a desperately undereducated medical community) that lacks the capacity to understand that good data visualization doesn’t always equate to good health information.
Self-determination is the rage and no technolibertarian wants to be told what they can or can’t do with respect to their health. But things that were once out of fashion have a way of coming back. Big government regulation may have a future in patient empowerment.
And who said paternalism is dead?
For more on this, check out the ever-brilliant Matthew Herper and his take in Forbes, 23andStupid.