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California-based 23andMe, already in the midst of a regulatory firestorm with the FDA, is being targeted by a class action lawsuit that claims its ads are misleading, and that the results of its $99 genetic test are “not supported by any scientific evidence.”
In a complaint filed last week, San Diego resident Lisa Casey claims she paid for 23andMe’s services, and received results by email, after learning of the home-based saliva test via TV and online ads. Now, days after the FDA issued a stinging letter that ordered the company to stop its marketing, Casey seeks to represent the “ten or hundreds of thousands” of others across America who paid for the product.
According to the complaint, which seeks at least $5 million under various California state laws, 23andMe makes false and misleading claims about the tests’ ability to provide relevant genetic information about breast cancer, diabetes, lactose intolerance and various other conditions.
23andMe, which is currently in discussions with the FDA, is still in the process of pulling down its commercials, which depict people standing next to pictures of their genetic profiles and saying things like “This part makes my eyes blue” and “I might have an increased risk of heart disease.”
The company, which is run by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google founder Sergey Brin, has been at the center of controversy since last week when the FDA issued a letter saying that 23andMe had been marketing medical devices without permission, and that its practices could lead to health risks like unnecessary mastectomies.
Some medical experts have defended the company, telling the New York Times “Is the only pathway for me to get access to the contents of my cells via some guy in a white coat?”
23andMe declined to comment on the lawsuit. You can read the complaint for yourself below:
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The complaint was spotted by Law360 (sub req’d).