Skip to content

On again, off again

The danger of marketing without FDA approval

The danger of marketing without FDA approval

The strange story of drug store–based genetic tests.

It was a quick trip on and off the shelves at several thousand Walgreens drug stores for Pathway Genomics direct-to-consumer genetic testing kit. Less than 48 hours after announcing the availability of the test kits, Walgreens pulled back due to an intervention by the Food and Drug Administration saying that the test was without regulatory approval, telling Genetic Pathways that it would be an “illegally marketed device.” In Act II of this genetic drama, CVS also pulled out of marketing the same product a few days ago.

For my money, I can’t believe they went to market without considering the FDA’s reaction. Naivety? Cockiness? When you work in a regulated environment, particularly one in which the regulations are under development and fluid, assume nothing. I have clients that have worked with the FDA, not around them, even thought their product did not require FDA approval. They obtained the guidance they needed to move forward and both parties were better off for the interaction.

Imagine all that must have been involved in doing two deals of this magnitude. But, according to the FDA, “if a company is making claims about a product that hasn’t been reviewed or validated by FDA, we want to make sure the information to consumers is accurate and the test will do what it says it will do.”


Read another blog entry about this issue.

Sign up to receive our industry trends newsletter: