These reviews should include any proposed investigational use of genetic tests, as well as more extensive pilot studies. In all instances the review body should include people from inside and outside the institution, including community representatives, preferably consumers of genetic services. In the clinical practice setting, professional societies should be encouraged to review studies and issue guidelines, thereby supplementing the guidance provided by IRBs (see Chapter 3).
The committee also recommends that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Protection from Research Risks provide guidance and training on how review bodies should scrutinize the risks to human subjects of genetic testing. IRBs may also need technical advice from a local advisory group on genetics (see Chapter 1). To the extent that a National Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing and its Working Group on Genetic Testing are established (see Chapter 9), these bodies should be consulted by IRBs and the NIH Office of Protection from Research Risks.
All laboratories offering genetic testing are included under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA88), and the committee recommends that the Health Care Financing Administration expand its existing lists of covered laboratory tests to include the full range of genetic tests now in use (see Chapter 3).
New tests, not validated elsewhere, that are added to the battery of tests should be considered investigational if they are used to make a clinical decision. The committee recommends that IRB approval be obtained in universities, commercial concerns, and other settings where new tests for additional disorders are being undertaken, even if the tests rely on existing technologies. IRB approval should be obtained before new tests are added to newborn screening.
The committee recommends that for a proper informed consent to be obtained from a person who is considering whether to undergo genetic testing, the person should be given information about the risks, benefits, efficacy, and alternatives to the testing; information about the severity, potential variability, and treatability of the disorder being tested for; and information about the subsequent decisions that will be likely if the test is positive (e.g., whether the person will have to make a decision about abortion). Information should also be disclosed about any potential conflicts of interest of the person or institution offering the test (e.g., equity holdings or ownership of the laboratory performing the test, dependence on test reimbursement to cover the costs of counseling, patents). The difficulty in applying the traditional mechanisms for achieving informed consent should not be considered