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Walgreens Postpones Selling Genetic Test Kits

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By Marcus Rosenbaum

Walgreens has postponed its plan to start selling a genetic testing kit over the counter. The country's largest drugstore chain was going to start selling the kits on Friday.

With the self-administered test, a California company, Pathway Genomics, says it could identify someone's risk of getting more than 70 diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Walgreens contended that because the genetic testing would be conducted by Pathway, it did not need approval from the Food and Drug Administration. But immediately after the plan became public earlier this week, the FDA ordered an investigation.

At the same time, geneticists warned against the test. They said the science behind genetic testing just isn't good enough yet, so results could leave people falsely complacent -- or falsely alarmed.

Today, Walgreens issued a statement saying it wanted "further clarity" before moving ahead with selling the kits. Although the kits would be new for a major retailer, Pathway and other companies have sold them online for years.

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