Skip to nav Skip to content

23andMe wants to tell you more than just your DNA ancestry. The consumer genetics company received United States Food and Drug Administration approval to tell those who use their kits which drugs may work best for them based on their genes.

It is based on an area of medicine called pharmacogenomics, which studies how genetics could influence a person’s response to drugs. For the 23andMe test, the company will use a saliva sample to look for 33 genetic variants that could affect how a person’s body breaks down and absorbs common drugs, like blood thinners or antidepressants.

Dr. Howard McCleoud, PharmD, director of the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute at Moffitt Cancer Center

Dr. Howard McLeod, a world renowned pharmacogenomics expert and medical director of the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute at Moffitt, says this approval is a move in the right direction.

“This approval will be remembered as a landmark for the movement of pharmacogenomics to the general population.  The use of genomic information to guide medication choices in patients has grown over the past few years.  Now this makes it part of the overall genetic literacy discussion.  There is still a lot to learn about how and when to apply pharmacogenomics, but this changes the access for people in the U.S.,” he said.

Dr. McLeod adds that while the 23andMe test is a good first step, patients need to bring the results to their physician for further discussion. Physicians will want to order their own genetic testing to confirm home results before altering any prescriptions.