New ban on genetic discrimination

Fears of a future “genetic underclass” were allayed last week by
the announcement of a five year moratorium on the use of DNA test
results by insurance companies.

The ban on the use of genetic tests will begin in November, but
insurers will still be able to use genetic test results authorised
by the government’s genetics and insurance committee (GAIC) for
life assurance policies of more than £500,000 and critical
illness, income protection and long-term care insurance of greater
than £300,000.

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Harry Cayton has welcomed
the agreement between the government and the industry trade body,
the Association of British Insurers (ABI). “We hope that the
moratorium will halt genetic discrimination and encourage families
to participate in genetic research without fear,” he said.

The only test approved by GAIC so far is for Huntington’s
Disease – a hereditary degenerative disease which attacks the
central nervous system – in the context of life assurance cover,
although the ABI has applied to the committee to use two genes
associated with familial early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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