E-Health and Commercial Genetic Testing

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Case #1

Business Ethics Case Studies:

e-Health and Commercial Genetic Testing

Veritas Diagnostics is a medical diagnostics company specializing in adult genetic susceptibility testing for a range of heritable and complex genetic conditions. Their main business involves testing for the mutations associated with cystic fibrosis, hereditary kidney disease, as well as breast, ovarian and colorectal cancer.

They have a well-staffed, well-run, sophisticated genetics laboratory capable of rapidly processing hundreds of samples for analysis on their many automated high-throughput DNA sequencers. Veritas considers their testing methodology to be the 'gold standard' and to that end, implement the latest testing technologies as they become available. Further, Veritas maintains good working relations with a number of leading university research laboratories, with whom they regularly verify their testing methods. 

Veritas' chief clientele to date has consisted of hospitals, physicians, and private insurers ordering genetic testing for patients. The company has become known for providing quick, accurate, and confidential services at a competitive price. The Veritas Board of Directors has recently decided to expand the existing market and begin offering commercial genetic testing services direct-to-consumer through the company website. As corporate Ethics Officer, you've been asked to work with the Vice President in charge of the new Direct-to-Consumer division to ensure that services are provided in an ethical manner. As far as the VP is concerned, the only ethical issue is consumer privacy, and given that Veritas already has privacy rules in place for dealing with physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies, the VP does not see that much needs to be changed for direct-to-consumer services.

You, however, see the situation as being more complex, and so are faced with convincing the VP that the following ethical questions must also be addressed:  1....
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