Page URL:

Over-the-counter paternity testing goes on sale in the UK

17 August 2009
Appeared in BioNews 521

A 'do-it-yourself' genetic testing kit will be available over-the-counter from chemists in the UK which allows users to send their own DNA samples by post for paternity testing. The kits cost £29.99 each and are produced by Anglia DNA, a company based in Norwich. Customers are required to post samples of their DNA to the company and - upon payment of a further fee of £129 - the samples will be tested in the company's laboratory. The results are then produced within five days - or within 24 hours if customers opt for the express service costing £329. The test is designed to confirm the paternity of an alleged father but the results will not be legally binding in paternity disputes in the courts.

Anglia DNA must comply with consent requirements for DNA analysis under the Human Tissue Act 2004 and it says that it also follows guidelines issued by the British Medical Association on over-the-counter genetic tests. Both adults must sign a consent form to be returned with the DNA samples and then this will be followed up with a telephone call to confirm the parties understand the consequences of the procedure. The consent of the child is usually obtained via the mother, the company said.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb says he is writing to the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) to ask for clarification on how such over-the-counter products are regulated. 'There's a question about whether the regulatory system keeps pace with changes in technology and whether there's a need to change the rules in which this sort of product can operate,' he said. Mr Lamb expressed concerns that the tests could encourage users to adopt a more 'casual' attitude to paternity testing: 'On the face of it, I don't oppose the idea of people having a right to know what their parentage is... but I can also see there are potential negative consequences and risk of a casual attitude to having a child.' The increasing availability of DNA testing and the improvement of the technology has thrown up the question of how such tests should be regulated, said Mr Lamb, calling upon the government and the HTA to address the issue.

Anglia DNA is the first company to test customers' DNA on UK soil. Last month, International Biosciences announced it was also distributing over-the-counter DNA testing kits to UK chemists but it sent the samples to the United States for testing.

Tom Howell, business development manager at Anglia DNA, said the company takes the issue of consent very seriously and defended supplying the kits over the counter. 'DNA testing used to exist online but now people can buy kits from an environment they feel comfortable with,' he said, adding: 'It takes away doubts and concerns and means people can move on with their lives. It is rare that people get back results that they do not expect.' Anglia DNA managing director, Dr Thomas Haizel said, 'It's great to have been able finally to launch the product and we hope the UK consumer will find great confidence in knowing this is a product developed for the UK market with all the testing done in a UK laboratory.'

£30 DNA testing kits to go on sale over the counter to settle paternity disputes without lawyers
The Daily Mail |  12 August 2009
DNA kits to go on sale
The Daily Telegraph |  12 August 2009
DNA test kits set to be sold over the counter in Scotland
The Herald |  12 August 2009
Do-it-yourself DNA test kits ready to go on sale in chemists
The Times |  13 August 2009
28 August 2012 - by Cait McDonagh 
A New York businessman is offering a mobile blood and tissue collection service for paternity testing....
23 November 2009 - by Gozde Zorlu 
Over-the-counter paternity tests have become available in more pharmacies across the UK, despite concerns being raised about the dangers of making this information available without medical supervision. Last week 'International Bioscience', a leading DNA analysis company, began marketing its paternity testing service to the UK through 'Clockwork pharmacies'. The UK's first over-the-counter paternity tests went on sale in pharmacies earlier this year, marketed by the company 'Anglia DNA ', spa...
12 August 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Government officials in Australia have held a joint public meeting to discuss the dangers of the burgeoning but largely unregulated direct-to-consumer genetic testing market. Chair Professor Ron Trent from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Human Genetics Advisory Committee (HGAC) and Professor David Weisbrot, the president...
30 June 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The California state government issued 'cease-and-desist' letters two weeks ago to 13 'direct-to-consumer' genetic-testing companies demanding they immediately stop selling genetic tests to California residents and provided them until last Tuesday, 23 June, to prove to authorities that they had complied with state and federal regulations or...
30 October 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
The Council of Europe has issued a protocol setting out measures that would strictly limit the use of mail order and over-the-counter genetic tests, in a bid to circumvent potential ethical dilemmas. The guidelines stipulate that diagnostic, predictive, 'healthy carrier' and pharmacogenetic tests should only be employed...
30 January 2006 - by BioNews 
Scientists attending a meeting on genomics and public health in London last week criticised some genetic tests being sold directly to the public. According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, tests that claim to assess a person's risk of developing common illnesses - sold via the Internet or through chemists...
12 May 2003 - by Nikki Ratcliff 
The supply and promotion of over-the-counter genetic tests has been the topic of heated debate over the past year. Consumers' Association (CA) believes that this is an area that currently lacks the proper safeguards to protect consumer interest. The regulation debate is very much polarised at the moment. At one...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.