Many if not most of my readers will have heard that 23andMe (the DNA company founded by Ann Wojcicki has been slapped with a "discontinue marketing" order by the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) as of November 22 this year.
In summary, the F.D.A. states that 23andMe is "marketing the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service
(PGS) without marketing clearance or approval in violation of the
Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act). "
23andMe was given 15 working days from the date of the letter to correct issues which were detailed in the F.D.A. letter
23andMe issued their own brief statement "An Update Regarding The FDA’s Letter to 23andMe" to the public on their blog dated November 26th. I find no further statements although the statement ends by stating they will provide further updates as they become available.
Affiliate Program Cancelled Suddenly
Now, in all likelihood, 23andMe will figure out some way to satisfy the F.D.A. However last night I received an email from 23andMe stating that their affiliate program has been cancelled. For those who don't know what an affiliate program is, that is where bloggers and website owners put up 23andMe ads on their blogs and sites. These ads earn a small commission if a sale of a DNA kit is made by someone going to the 23andMe site through the ad.
The fact that 23andMe cancelled their program so abruptly and at such a time leads me to have a few more concerns. What's the worst that can happen? 23andMe could go out of business. The website could close.
What Should You Do?
These are worst-case scenarios but if you, like me, have had DNA tested at 23andMe I suggest you do two things:
1. Download your raw data. If 23andMe were to shut down, you would no longer have access to that data. So log in to your account, click on your profile name so you get the drop down menu, and choose "Browse Raw Data" When your data page loads, click the DOWNLOAD button. I have just downloaded all 3 of the accounts I manage on 23andMe (mine, my husband's and my brother's)
2. Write to your 23andMe matches, give them your personal email address and request theirs. Right now you can only contact your matches through the 23andMe messaging system. So if the site goes down you will lose contact with these individuals.
Update: Lori Thornton tells me that people can upload to GedMatch.com (for free) to have some abilities to triangulate. And Caroline Marshall Pointer adds that we can also transfer our raw data to Family Tree DNA, which is currently offering a sale price of $49.00 to do so.
Hopefully this will iron itself out but the new development of the Affiliate program being suddenly dropped makes me a bit nervous. So I'm being proactive. Remember, we have no idea what will happen and I've only presented the worst case scenarios. Everything could just go on as is but I always like to have a plan just in case.