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Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Gets Access To Info From 5 Million 23andMe Customers

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline bought a $300-million stake in genetic testing company 23andMe and now has access to a vast amount of information from the genetics company’s 5 million customers, 23andMe announced Wednesday.

Eighty percent of 23andMe’s customers have opted to share their information for scientific research, reported The Los Angeles Times. California-based 23andMe and United Kingdom-based GlaxoSmithKline signed a four-year deal to collaborate on creating and testing new drugs, according to a Wednesday press release.

The companies plan to kick off their partnership by testing GlaxoSmithKline’s new treatment for Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder that affects about 1 million people in the U.S. 23andMe will provide information to help the drugmaker recruit test patients with mutations of a gene called LRRK2 that has been linked to Parkinson’s. (RELATED: Study: To Avoid Alzheimer’s, Pay Attention To Your Blood Pressure)

23andMe is a leader in the personal genetics testing market. Customers submit saliva samples to learn more about their ancestry. The Food and Drug Administration decided to allow 23andMe to sell customers reports about what future health risks their genes indicate. The decision was the first time the FDA has “approved such direct-to-consumer genetic test,” reported The LA Times in 2017.

GlaxoSmithKline ranked 11th out of 13 drug companies in research and development returns in 2017, according to Bloomberg.

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