Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing and Its Marketing: Emergent Ethical and Public Policy Implications

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Journal of Business Ethics

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This paper provides a marketing ethics analysis that addresses the practice of selling genetic tests (GT) directly to the consumer (DTC). It details the complexity of this emergent sector by articulating the panoply of evolving ethical/social questions raised by this development. It advances the conversation about DTC genetic testing by reviewing the business and healthcare literature concerning this topic and by laying out the inherent ethical complications for consumers, marketers, and regulators. It also points to several possible public and company policy adjustments. Because this area is relatively new and incredibly dynamic, its current discussion is necessarily an exercise in the “logic of discovery” rather than the “protocol of validation”. The paper serves as a primer for the types of GT being promoted. It also calls for a public discourse in the academic and general community to uncover and define the ethical guidelines and systemic adjustments necessary to create fairness in the various DTC transactions occurring between genetic test sellers and the buyers/clients of their services.


Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 175, No. 4 (February 2022): 669-688. DOI.