Alexandra Foulkes de la Parra, ‘Genetic Villains’

When a little boy’s doctors relied on his genetic test results to guide their treatment, they opted for medicines that eventually killed him. The lab that generated the genetic test results knew, at the time of the report, that these results might have meant something other than what was communicated to the doctors. Had his doctors known what the lab knew, their course of treatment would have certainly changed. Whether we see the lab as this narrative’s villains depends on our perspective. And though, of course, it is tempting to name a villain under these circumstances, doing so leaves the problem unsolved. This Article proposes that the best way to prevent outcomes like this in the future is not by punishing the labs’ conduct but by properly incentivizing them to perform efficiently. Class action theory and economics help us think of genetics labs as DNA aggregators, free to benefit from their work. And, with this framework in mind, incentivizing labs to reorganize as benefit corporations and adopt contracts and practices that protect their business will lead to the implementation of more effective reclassification and recontacting procedures.

Foulkes de la Parra, Alexandra, Genetic Villains (February 21, 2020). South Carolina Law Review, forthcoming.

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