Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 45 (3):333-340 (2017)

Susan Wolf
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Developing ethical standards for clinical use of large-scale genome and exome sequencing has proven challenging, in part due to the inevitability of incidental or secondary findings. Policy of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics has evolved but remains problematic. In 2013, ACMG issued policy recommending mandatory analysis of 56 extra genes whenever sequencing was ordered for any indication, in order to ascertain positive findings in pathogenic and actionable genes. Widespread objection yielded a 2014 amendment allowing patients to opt-out from analysis of the extra genes. In 2015, ACMG published the amended policy, providing that patients could opt out of the full set of extra genes, but not a subset. In 2016, ACMG enlarged the set and indicated planned expansion of the roster of extra genes to include pharmacogenetic findings. ACMG policy does not protect the respect for patient choice that prevails in other domains of clinical medicine, where informed consent allows patients to opt in to desired testing. By creating an expanding domain of genomic testing that will be routinely conducted unless patients reject the entire set of extra tests, ACMG creates an exceptional domain clinical practice that is not supported by ethics or science.
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DOI 10.1177/1073110517737531
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