What We're Reading: Drug Distributors and Campaign Cash; Vaccinations Slide; Genetic Privacy Worries

October 12, 2018

Two of the 3 largest drug distributors are on track to exceed the levels of their congressional campaign donations from 2016; the CDC reports that a growing number of preschoolers and kindergartners are not receiving their immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases; genetic information posted online can be used to identify relatives who never participated in the DNA testing or agreed to share their personal information.

Drug Distributors Step Up Campaign Donations to Congress Amid Increased Scruitiny

More Children Not Receiving Vaccinations, CDC Reports

Popular Genetic Tests Found to Reveal Publicly Relatives That Never Consented to Participate

Two of the 3 largest drug distributors are on track to exceed the levels of their congressional campaign donations from 2016, STAT News reported. In many cases, the largest contributions have gone to lawmakers who oversee investigations into those distributors or who play key roles in determining health care and drug policy, such as Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon. Typically, campaign spending tends to stagnate in years without a presidential election. The contributions—nearly $3 million so far—are coming even as lawmakers are aggressively taking on the industry.The CDC reports that a growing number of preschoolers and kindergartners are not receiving their immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. The Washington Post said that, of children born in 2015, 1.3% had not received any of the recommended vaccinations, compared with 0.9% in 2011 and with 0.3% of 19- to 35-month-olds who had not received any immunizations when surveyed in 2001. Assuming the same proportion of children born in 2016 didn’t get any vaccinations, about 100,000 children who are now younger than 2 aren’t vaccinated against 14 potentially serious illnesses, said Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician and the CDC’s senior adviser for vaccines.Genetic information posted online can be used to identify relatives who never participated in the DNA testing or agreed to share their personal information, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing 2 new papers in Science and Cell that highlight the privacy issues. The privacy risks are receiving scrutiny as more people get their DNA tested by companies such as 23andMe Inc. and Ancestry and then post the data on public genealogy sites. In the Science paper, researchers said citizens can use the same techniques as law enforcement identify people using DNA test results. In Cell, researchers used an algorithm they devised and matched siblings with siblings and parents with children when 1 individual was in an ancestry database and the other in a law-enforcement database.