Printed on: November 26, 2013

WASHINGTON briefly


FDA orders halt of genetic test sales

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has ordered Google-backed genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits, saying the company has failed to show that the technology is supported by science.

In a warning letter posted online Monday, FDA regulators say the Silicon Valley company has not shown that its tests are safe or effective despite "more than 14 face-to-face and teleconference meetings" and "hundreds of email exchanges." The agency orders 23andMe to stop marketing its test immediately, warning that erroneous results could cause customers to seek unnecessary or ineffective medical care.

23andMe's saliva-based test kit, launched more than five years ago, claims to tell customers whether they are at risk for more than 250 diseases and health conditions. The FDA says only medical tests that have been cleared by the government are permitted to make such claims. The spread of consumer-marketed DNA tests has troubled doctors and health officials who worry they are built on flimsy science.

Hate crimes down slightly last year

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI is reporting that hate crime incidents were slightly down last year.

Numbers released by the FBI on Monday showed there were 5,796 such incidents in 2012, compared with 6,222 in 2011.

All but six of the incidents were motivated by a single bias. Of those, just less than half were motivated by racial bias, about 1 in 5 were motivated by sexual-orientation bias, just less than 1 in 5 were motivated by religious bias, and just more than 1 in 10 were motivated by ethnicity/national origin bias. Bias against people with disabilities accounted for 1.6 percent of the incidents.

Contingencies eyed if Iran deal falters

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers are making contingency plans for what happens if -- or when -- the nuclear accord with Iran falls apart.

Congress is out of town through the end of the month, but lawmakers are already weighing their options for how to address the deal with Iran, in which Tehran agrees to a six-month pause in its nuclear program in exchange for eased sanctions worth $7 billion.

Lawmakers from both parties are skeptical the agreement will prod Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions and say they will be waiting with even harsher punishment if Iran proves an untrustworthy partner.