Marchant on the First Study of Genetics-related Lawsuits

Faculty Director Gary Marchant recently spoke to GenomeWeb about the first empirical study of genetics-related lawsuits, or “genomic malpractice.” The study, conducted by Marchant and Rachel Lindor–a physician and researcher at the Mayo Clinic, was published in the Food and Drug Law Journal earlier this year. That paper is available here: Genomic Malpractice: An Emerging Tide or Gentle Ripple?

Precision medicine companies estimate that there are more than 74,000 commercially available genetic tests in the US today and as many as 14 new tests hit the market every day. “Litigation is becoming a key mechanism for how we deal with risk with a lot of these newer technologies,” said Marchant, speaking with GenomeWeb. “There aren’t standards, guidelines, legislation, or regulation for a lot of the new, emerging technologies, so increasingly litigation is being used as a risk management system.”

Marchant and Lindor looked into the cases from 1977 to 2016. They found that genetic-related malpractice claims are not exploding… just yet. Marchant notes that the slow increase in such claims is likely due to the complexity of the science and technology involved. Plaintiff attorneys are just now getting up to speed and feeling comfortable bringing suits involving genetic issues.

The early success of such suits brought to date may also induce more litigation in this area. Marchant and Lindor found that, when settlements and rulings were combined, plaintiffs found favorable outcomes 60% of the time. Additionally, genomic malpractice payouts were far higher on average compared to the average medical malpractice case.

Marchant recently presented the study’s findings at the Society for Risk Analysis’ Annual Meeting. Check out the piece on GenomeWeb for a detailed discussion of Marchant’s study: Q&A: Gary Marchant Discusses Research on Genetic Testing Lawsuits, Future Liability.

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