Who's your daddy? Answer's at the drugstore
Pharmacy chain markets DNA paternity tests in 30 states nationwide
By JoNel Aleccia
updated 8:36 a.m. ET, Thurs., March. 27, 2008
After two decades, Sean Reid of Surrey, British Columbia, discovered that he had a son. Fred Turley of
Des Plaines, Ill., learned he didn’t have a daughter. And Wendy Lieb of Lewis Center, Ohio, made certain
she wasn’t going to be a grandmother quite yet.
In all three situations, crucial genetic information altered the lives of the people involved. And in each case, it
came not from a doctor or other medical source, but from a $29.99 kit on a drugstore shelf.
Reid, Turley and Lieb are among more than 800 customers who responded to the first wave of marketing for
do-it-yourself DNA paternity tests sold as Identigene by Sorenson Genomics of Salt Lake City.
Sales in three western states — Washington, Oregon and California — were so brisk last fall that Rite Aid
Corp. expanded the product this week to some 4,300 stores in 30 states across the country.
“The running joke is that we’re the Maury Povich family,” said Reid, 37, who confirmed years of speculation
about a former girlfriend’s son with a kit purchased at a Bellingham, Wash., store. “But why not do it
privately? We did this as discreetly, as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.”
For users like Reid, the tests provide easier answers to one of life’s crucial questions — Who’s your daddy?
— said Douglas Fogg, chief operating officer of Identigene.
“Everyone is purchasing the tests because they’re curious,” said Fogg, who expects to sell at least 52,000
tests this year. “They’re looking to establish questions about their own child or their own paternity.”
But for genetics experts, drugstore marketing of DNA testing raises questions of accuracy and ethics.
“From our perspective, direct-to-consumer genetic tests raise all the same issues for lax government