Genetic Services, Social Context, and Public Priorities
Genetic technology, touted as being one of the great revolutions in medicine-and salvation to many who suffer from intractable disease-is weil on its way to a clinic near you. Thanks to rapid private-sector advances in molecular biology, and fueled by a three-billion-dollar federal Human Genome Project that is mapping and sequencing the genetic makeup of humans, a plethora of genetic population screens, diagnostic tests, and therapies will be available-perhaps commonplace-in the next decade. But the eure might be worse than the disease. The avalanche of genetic services has the potential to cripple an already siek health care system. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to wonder whether there is a sensible way to distribute this onslaught of services. And what public policy matters must society pay attention to if there is to be any chance of reaching some sensible distribution of these services?